Magdalen College JCR passed a motion on Tuesday applying for Fairtrade accreditation of the college and endorsing the University-wide campaign that aims for every college in the university to be Fairtrade certified.
The motion, proposed by Magdalen’s outgoing Environment and Ethics trustee Matthew Steggles, supports Just Love, a Christian social justice organisation, who are working in collaboration with OUSU Environment and Ethics representatives in colleges. Together the groups are encouraging people to source more ethical goods in their day to day lives.
The proposal states that the JCR “have obligation as global citizens to respect those who provide our food and clothing”, adding, “Fairtrade certification provides a clear, sustainable and effective framework through which to fulfil this obligation.”
Having passed with 42 votes in favour, and only 1 against, the successful motion mandates Magdalen’s Environment and Ethics representative to liaise with the college’s home bursar and senior staff in order to make the college Fairtrade.
The motion also outlines proposals to create an annual Fairtrade subcommittee of the JCR.
This step follows in the wake of 97 other universities, including Oxford Brookes and Cambridge, all of which have become Fairtrade certified, along with Lady Margaret Hall, Linacre and Christ Church colleges.
Mr. Steggles, who tabled Magdalen’s motion, told Cherwell: “Ideally I’d like to see Oxford as a university be more proactive in supporting worthy causes than I feel they are at the moment. Fairtrade measurably improves the lives of people in some of the most impoverished areas and to be able to take a step towards that through Oxford is definitely worthwhile.”
However, there has been some controversy surrounding the campaign. One student speaking to Cherwell, questioned: “Why Fairtrade? I support the Rainforest Alliance. All I care about is having a world for us to live in.”
Other students felt they would prefer to align themselves with a charity more efficient than Fairtrade.
This comes after last year’s contentious news that Cadbury was abandoning its Fairtrade certification in favour of its parent company’s in-house fair trade scheme, Cocoa Life.
Speaking in Oxford Town Hall last month however, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, Michael Gidney, offered support for Cadbury’s Cocoa Life Scheme, and concentrated on the wider vision he held for Fairtrade’s future, especially the role played by Fairtrade colleges, schools and communities.
OUSU, in its 2016/2017 policy, committed to supporting Fairtrade, said: “The Vice President for Charities and Communities will campaign for increased Fairtrade consumption within the university departments and colleges.”
OUSU also hopes to convince the University to assign a Fairtrade officer to oversee Fairtrade at Oxford.
The Fairtrade Foundation claims that it helps over 1.65 million farmers and workers across 74 countries. This includes giving the cooperatives a premium to invest back into the community through such means as education and improved technology.