Georgetown University has made millions licensing its name to clothing manufacturers. Georgetown clothing is produced in factories around the world and under varying conditions. Clearly, Georgetown has received money for clothing produced in violation of both labor laws and ethical standards.
Since a 1999 sit-in, Georgetown has promised to help monitor factories that produce its apparel. As part of a compromise reached during the protest, the university agreed to establish a Licensing Implementation Committee to determine the most effective way for Georgetown to monitor factories. The university has tried joining national monitoring groups comprised, to varying degrees, of colleges and businesses which would monitor factories for Georgetown.
The committee, composed of students, faculty and administrators, has a difficult job. The two largest monitoring organizations, the Fair Labor Association and the Workers’ Rights Consortium, are still in the formative stages. Monitoring the monitoring organizations is a time consuming job made even more difficult by the quickly changing nature of a college campus.
Just as students and faculty members begin to work well together, the group is broken apart. The majority of committee members, including the chair, Michael Garanzini, S.J., will be leaving their positions on the committee at the end of the year.
The committee is a temporary group composed of volunteers who devote a significant amount of time to following a very complex issue?monitoring the labor practices of giant corporations.
The current situation requires a committee to continuously monitor Georgetown’s licensing. A permanent committee will recognize that monitoring and licensing issues will be ongoing, and the need to keep a careful eye on business will not go away. Most importantly, the committee must meet regularly.
Georgetown also needs paid staff members to monitor the situation and provide continuity to the group as a whole. Research is an integral part of monitoring, but research is also extraordinarily time consuming. As a Jesuit school that proclaims its commitment to social justice, Georgetown has an obligation to provide a percentage of the resources derived from licensing to ensure that no piece of Georgetown clothing is put together by denying workers their basic rights.