Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Students Occupy Chancellor's Office

About 10 students from UNC Chapel Hill's SAW - (Student Action with Workers) - which includes several members of Raleigh FIST - as well as members of UNC SDS, SPEAC (Solidarity with Palestine through Education and Action), and USAS - have been occupying the Chancellor's office for 24 hours now - demanding that the University sign on to the DSP - Designated Supplier Program - that would ensure that apparral made with the UNC logo is made by workers free from anti-union intimidation and full rights to organize - - demanding "Stop Union Busting" and "UNC Sweatfree" - the students have committed to staying as long as it takes - and are prepared to continue the occupation through the weekend.

Thursday, April 17- Riding a wave of student sit-ins that has been sweeping the nation, students at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have just occupied Chancellor Moeser's office. 15 students have stated that they refuse to leave the building until Chancellor Moeser agrees to a sweatfree policy called the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). This is the fourth sit-in in support of this policy in the last week, with students already having been arrested at Pennsylvania State University, University of Montana, and another UNC system school, Appalachian State University. Students, workers, and community members will be mobilizing to march on the South Building at 4:30 in anticipation of the building's closure, and possible student arrests, at 5:00 pm.

For the past three years, students at the Chapel Hill campus have demanded that Chancellor Moeser adopt the DSP, a policy that has been proposed at more than 150 schools by different chapters of United Students Against Sweatshops. The DSP would ensure that university logoed apparel is produced in factories where workers earn enough to support a family and have the right to form a union. Despite the overwhelming support of students, community members, and the more than 20 organizations that make up the Carolina Sweatfree Coalition, Chancellor Moeser has still refused to follow the lead of the 42 other universities, including Duke, who have already signed on to the DSP. "As UNC students we would like to wear our Carolina gear with pride," said Salma Mirza, a senior history major at UNC Chapel Hill. "Instead, due to Chancellor Moeser's inaction, our clothes continue to be made in factories where workers don't earn enough to support themselves, let alone their families."

As student protest has spread throughout the UNC system, an international campaign has begun to demand that the entire UNC system commit themselves to the principles of the DSP. Last week, UNC President Erskine Bowles received phone calls, emails, and faxes from thousands of advocates around the world demanding that the UNC system follow the lead of the University of California by having all of its member schools adopt the DSP. "As a Carolina Covenant Scholar, I feel that compromising the living and working conditions of others in order to fund my college education is unacceptable, especially from an institution that touts itself as 'the university of the people," said Ea Panjwani, a sophomore covenant scholar majoring in international studies.


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