Andrew Sexton, 2011
Our university takes considerable pride in its commitment to social justice. One of the school’s mottos reads “Men and women for others”. On the Boston College website, Father Leahy, the President of the University, writes “Boston College endeavors to educate a new generation of leaders for the new millennium—men and women who will be capable of shaping a new century with vision, justice, and charity—with a sense of calling, with concern for all of the human family.” However, Boston College’s position on fair trade calls these elegant sentiments into question.
You may have recently seen members of Real Food BC (the club responsible for Addie’s and the farmers market) around campus petitioning for Boston College Dining to start supplying fair trade certified bananas. The world-wide Fair Trade movement is concerned “…for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers…”. Products like tea, chocolate, coffee and bananas are largely dominated by massive corporations with shoddy human rights records and unfair business policies. This is where Fair Trade steps in. Fair Trade cuts out the middle man and connects small-scale producers that adhere to fair trade guidelines (green, humane, sustainable) directly with the consumer. In turn, the producers are empowered to positively change their respective local communities. 
With the chiding of Real Food BC, Boston College Dining has already started supplying fair trade certified tea, chocolate, and coffee (though non-fair trade coffee is still offered). This is certainly commendable; however, so far BC has refused to switch to fair trade bananas. One supplier of Boston College bananas is Chiquita, a company that makes Walmart look like Whole Foods. The corporation has a history of human rights abuses that spans decades. One of the more damning charges against Chiquita surfaced just a couple of years ago in 2007, when the corporation was fined 25 million dollars by the United States Justice department for funding a terrorist group.
Boston College should reject any kind of association with Chiquita or other large banana producers like it. The other major corporation in the banana industry, Dole, is comparably ruthless. Yet BC Real Food President Anabelle McLean says that the university has asked that BC Real Food prove Fair Trade certified bananas would be economically feasible before a swap is made. According to McLean, Boston College has asked that the Fair Trade bananas petition have “thousands” of names before any switch is made. The BC Real Food petition already has over 1,100 names, and that number will skyrocket when the petition goes online.
McLean estimates that the price of fair trade bananas would only be around 10 to 25 cents higher than the bananas BC currently offers. This is a small price to pay for social justice, and the long list of names on the Fair Trade bananas petition proves that the Boston College student body is in favor of change. No matter what happens, the manner in which Boston College has dealt with this issue is disturbing. BC should have taken the lead. Instead it put cost-benefit analysis before justice. Boston College Dining’s continued lack of action is cynical, disappointing, and not consistent with the values of this university.
 Downie, Andrew. “Fair Trade in Bloom.” New York Times 2 Oct. 2007, Business sec. Web.
 Brough, David. “Briton Finds Ethical Jewellery Good as Gold.” Reuters Canada. 10 Jan. 2008. Web.
 Black Gold. Dir. Marc Francis and Nick Francis. California Newsreel, 2010. Film.
 Associated Press. “Victims of Colombian Conflict Sue Chiquita Brands.” New York Times 15 Nov. 2007, World Business sec. Web.
 JUANA PEREZ 1-51/JUAN PEREZ 5E-50 v. DOLE FOOD COMPANY, INC. Superior Court of California. Apr. 2009. International Rights Advocates. Web.