The collegiate organization at Villanova recently united to make a change. University Students Against Sweatshops works nationally and internationally for laborer’s rights. USAS members at Villanova are working with the “Badidas” campaign to cut the University’s contract with Adidas.
As part of the “Badidas” campaign at Villanova, a group of 12 students from different years gathered to cut the University’s contract with Adidas.
More than 40 students attended a meeting in which two Indonesian workers expressed their miserable work experiences with the PT Kizone Company, but a few were inspired to ignite change. These stories influenced those who were interested to “cut the contract and make a lasting change,” freshman Corey Sweeney said.
USAS at Villanova held a follow-up meeting after the campaign. The members organized a letter to Fr. Peter M. Donahue, O. S. A., in hopes of ending Villanova’s contract with Adidas. Even though only 12 individual letters were delivered, USAS members feel that was a good start.
“We have a small group of students in USAS now, but it doesn’t take a lot of people to make a difference,” Sweeney said.
USAS allows students to take action and help workers in sweatshops. The members conducted the letter delivery one week after the “Badidas” campaign.
Father Peter was not present but the letter delivery nevertheless initiated a change. USAS members personally delivered the letter by holding an enormous tie and “cutting” it.
“Even though Father Peter was not there, people were still interested and curious about the letter delivery,” Elliot Williams said.
During the letter delivery, USAS members saw interested faces on campus. Villanovans were intrigued by the idea but USAS urges more people to participate.
“Heads were turning when we were delivering the letters but I think students need to know more about what our goals are,” Sweeney said.
“If students familiarize themselves with the issue, they can be part of this movement and make changes that will turn these worker’s lives around,” Williams said.
The idea of “cutting the ties” is now shared by all USAS members throughout the world. USAS organizations everywhere will deliver their letters the same way Villanova’s USAS members did.
Members will hold a big tie and cut it to symbolize the need to end contracts and prevent injustice towards workers.
Members of USAS are convinced that a change will be made. USAS members will meet weekly to discuss further attempts to end the University’s contract with Adidas. During meetings students plan step-by-step procedures to cut the ties. Students plan on another letter delivery in the future.
“Villanova inspires leadership, and everyone can make a difference,” Javier Zopata said.
USAS encourages students to participate with the next letter delivery. A specific date has not been set since the organization is in its beginning stages.
“We just started but the ball is rolling, we are on our way to end this contract with Adidas,” Williams said.
“Students should understand the stories of these workers and realize that the changes we can make will mean the world to them,” Sweeney said. “Writing a simple letter can change the worker’s lives and that should be an inspiration to want to help make a difference.”
USAS members said they want more students to participate. The members will have a table at Connelly Center from March 11-14 where more information will be provided.
“We are working to build a chapter and a constitution at Villanova because we want USAS to be a club here for the next 40-50 years,” Sweeney said.
Six other universities have already ended contracts with Adidas. USAS members urge Villanova to be next. USAS members at Villanova are working on a petition and individual letters for the next letter delivery.
“We hope that the petition will get more numbers where people can participate in this movement,” Zopata said. “We know that life of a college student is hectic so signing a petition will hopefully allow more students to be part of this change.” “If students understand what’s happening, they can become aware and make a change,” Zopata said.
Students don’t need to be part of USAS to make a difference because “simply being aware of the situation and putting some effort to end Villanova’s contract with Adidas can bring on change,” Williams said.
There are a few Adidas T-shirts at the Villanova bookstore.
“Even though there are only three or four Adidas shirts at the bookstore right now, that does not mean anything,” Zopata said.
This campaign is not concerned with numbers, but it is symbolic.
“Our campaign and need to end the school’s contract is not about us, but it’s about the workers,” Sweeney said.