Students Protest USC Sweatshop Gear
USC students put on an 'I'd rather wear anything but sweatshop clothing'-themed fashion show Wednesday in protest of the University's 10-year agreement with the Dallas Cowboy's brand of collegiate apparel, Silver Star Merchandising.
Students wish to call upon USC President C.L. Max Nikias to sign onto the Worker's Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights monitoring organization focused on protecting the rights of workers who sew apparel and make other products sold in the United States. The organization's main concern lies specifically with apparel bearing college or university logos.
For USC student activist Sarah Newell, the message of the fashion show is clear.
"We want to show USC that we would rather wear garbage than wear clothes that are made in sweatshops," said Newell.
Newell hopes that the demonstration will generate enough buzz to get President Nikias to take action.
"I care about my school," said Newell. "I bleed cardinal and gold. I want to buy every silly thing with a USC logo in the bookstore, but I can't do that in good conscious."
If President Nikias agrees to sign the WRC, the University will have the ability to monitor factories that manufacture USC clothing. Then, USC can gain accurate reports from the factories and "keep their code of ethics in check," according to Newell.
Newell first got involved with the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation (SCALE) through word-of-mouth. But once she got involved, she couldn't help but continue.
"Once I knew a little bit, I just couldn't stop fighting," Newell said.
The Director of University Trademarking and Social Responsibility, Matt Curan . responded to the protest and issued this statement:
"USC's agreement with 289C (Silver Star Merchandising) Apparel will ultimately result in a reduced number of factories producing USC apparel. We believe this will give us, and other parties involved, an enhanced ability to track, monitor, and to ideally have greater influence on those factories. They have made a commitment to work with us to further advance their social responsibility efforts."