At 7 p.m. on Wed. October 12th, the Students for Social Justice (SFSJ) Group presented the event “Behind the Swoosh” in the lower level of Barone Campus Center. Approximately 230 people, including students, faculty, and Fairfield community members, attended the evening led by labor activist Jim Keady, who spoke out against the injustices of Nike sweatshops in Indonesia.
Keady led his presentation by showing his documentary, Behind the Swoosh.Then he offered facts and calculations that he believes the average student needs to know about Nike.
“Why do we live in a world where profit is the bottom line? Is it fair that the CEO of Nike makes $13 million a year while the company’s factory workers live on $1.25 a day?” questions Julie Whittaker ’12 about the lessons she took from the presentation. These statistics appeared to shock the audience and brought attention to the issue Jim Keady has spent the past 13 years of his life working on.
Keady shared with the audience a picture of a Fairfield sweatshirt with the Nike logo and then offered students an alternative manufacturer, Alta Gracia. Products made by Alta Gracia, which engages in ethical business practices, are available in the University bookstore. When audience members checked their own clothing and sneakers at Keady’s request, many realized they had at least one item made by Nike. Addressing the athletes, Keady pointed out, “If you take away the swoosh logo that represents Nike from the sports uniforms and sneakers, it wouldn’t make you less of an athlete. You would still perform the same.”
“From the Students for Social Justice perspective, we left the event with that image emblazoned in our mind,” says Whittaker. “As students of a Jesuit institution, who are we called to be? How are we called to act on this knowledge? We are hoping this presentation has raised similar questions among our fellow students, staff, and administrators.”
The event was made possible on campus through the S4SJ along with their sponsors – the Economics Department, Dolan School of Buisness, Division of Academic Affairs, FUSA Featured Speakers, Catholic Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Center for Faith and Public Life. “These sponsors were key in bringing him to campus,” says Laura Stakey ‘14, a S4SJ member. “The attendance and interest throughout campus strengthens Students for Social Justice’s momentum on our path to change at this university.”
Keady’s presentation deeply affected those in attendance. Many went straight to their favorite social media site after the event, voicing their frustration with Nike via Facebook, Twitter, and others.
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