4/18/2014 11:43:05 AM

Fair Trade's Sweet Success

Friday, November 08, 2013

By Kristen Bossio '16

A commitment to building a more just world is central to the Siena College mission. To support that mission, students are getting behind the Fair Trade movement and making people think about what they’re buying.

“It’s important to realize that your purchasing habits can, and often do, change other’s lives around the world,” said sociology major Dustin Stiffler ’14. “We have the power to make the world a better place through the products we purchase.”

Fair Trade is a global movement to bring a sense of justice and opportunity to the world’s poor, vulnerable and marginalized workers and producers. Since becoming the third college in the United States and first Catholic college in the country to achieve Fair Trade status in 2010, 

Siena College has emerged as a leader in the effort thanks to students like Stiffler and economics major Alana Strassfield ’14.

“Fair Trade helps people, but it’s in no way, shape or form charity,” said Strassfield. “It simply gives people what they deserve. And that’s a huge part of Siena’s culture – ensuring the dignity and respect of all our fellow human beings.”

Strassfield recently spearheaded the “Late Night Snack Photo Contest.” The contest’s goal was to post on social media fun and creative photos of students with the Ben and Jerry's ice cream flavor "Late Night Snack.” Ben and Jerry's sources Fair Trade ingredients andhas partnered with Fair Trade Campaigns to promote the Jimmy Fallon-inspired ice cream. All the proceeds from the sale of “Late Night Snack” are donated to Fair Trade Colleges and Universities.

The Global Actions and Concerns Committee from the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women and Siena Students for Fair Trade succeeded in mobilizing more than 200 students to participate in the contest. 

Siena College placed second in the competition amongst 21 other schools across the nation, including large universities.

Earlier this semester, Center for Women Director Shannon O’Neill, Ph.D. and Professor of Political Science Vera Eccarius-Kelly, Ph.D. took a group of six Siena College students, including Stiffler and Strassfield, to the Regional New England Fair Trade gathering in Massachusetts.

“I felt that Siena was really recognized as a pioneer amongst Fair Trade colleges and universities in the Northeast,” said Strassfield.

The students participated in various panels, connected with other activists and gave words of encouragement to representatives of other regional schools.

“It was an excellent way to share ideas, and stories of struggle, as well as success,” said Stiffler. “There has been a lot of growth in the Fair Trade movement in the recent years, and this was one step in the Northeast to create a network so that we can support other campaigns in our region better.”

Along with consuming products such as chocolate, coffee and tea, and springing for an occasional “Late Night Snack,” Stiffler and Strassfield said talking about it is the best way to ensure that the Fair Trade movement is a sweet success.

To the Right: (Top)Stiffler and Strassfield, (Middle and Bottom) Photos submitted as part of the “Late Night Snack” Photo Contest.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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