A year has passed since student athletes protested Nike’s labor practices by taping over the Nike swoosh on their sneakers. Still, Nike remains the only licensee whose contract does not mandate compliance with the university code of conduct.
This April, President John J. DeGioia sent a letter to Nike emphasizing the importance of the code of conduct and cooperation with the Worker Rights Consortium’s (WRC), an independent monitoring agency, after Georgetown’s Licensing Oversight Committee (LOC) recommended action in March. Nike’s contract is set to expire in December, according to John Kline, a professor of international business diplomacy in the SFS and LOC member. Neither changes in the contract nor progress with discussions have been announced by the administration since April.
Cal Watson, Georgetown’s Director of Business Policy and Planning, wrote in a recent email to the Voice that currently discussions between the University and Nike about the status of the Nike license are “ongoing,” and that the university has “communicated to Nike our commitment to the Code of Conduct.” However, according to Kline, the university does not appear to be considering other vendors despite Nike’s continued refusal to sign the code of conduct and the Nike license’s impending expiration.
This editorial board believes that the contract should not be renewed in its current form. The changes advocated in the spring by the LOC and DeGioia himself are not complicated, and continuing negotiations almost half a year later are hard to explain. If the changes cannot be made, Nike should be replaced by an alternate vendor.
Georgetown has a long history with Nike, stretching back to the days of Patrick Ewing and the height of the Big East Conference in the early `80s. But if its relationship cannot be made to fit the university’s own values, then it is time for that relationship to end.