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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston’s New Fair Trade Club Reaches Out to Students

Founding Club Member Billy Meyers Explaining Fair Trade to Fellow Students



Chocolate and ice cream was free for the asking in the Campus Center at the Fair Trade Club’s table on Nov. 14. There was one catch: takers had to wait until the club’s three members had explained the importance of promoting fair trade.

The club’s founder, Maritza Merino, went to a Fair Trade Symposium at MIT in October 2011, courtesy of her employers, Ben and Jerry’s. At the symposium, she met Pedro Ascencio of El Salvador’s Las Colinas Co-op and talked to him about life in his community before fair trade.

“He was telling me they got paid so little that they had to borrow money from their bosses, so that by the time their paycheck came it would all go to paying the debt, and then they would have to take another loan. Now they are sending the first few students from their town to college. It was in this symposium that I really got interested in fair trade,” Merino said.

Merino explained that the principle of fair trade “means that farmers are getting a fair wage for their product. It tries to minimize the number of people between the producer and the buyer. It means that there’s no child labor. It means that the farmers are working under safe conditions; that their salary increases with the rate of inflation.” Fair trade companies get certified by groups like Gobal Fair Trade and Fair Trade USA.

The Fair Trade Club only has three members now, but it will be sponsored by the university in Spring 2013. The club’s goals include talking to university officials about how to bring more fair trade products to UMass Boston in the food service areas and the school store. At the event on the 14th, they gave away 650 samples, reaching over 600 students, and had over 150 sign up to get club updates.

Students interested in joining the Fair Trade Club should email [email protected].