Monday, April 28, 2008

University overstepping?

On Friday, the mailboxes of our 8 students who were involved in the sit-in received letters informing them that they faced disciplinary probation. Fair enough. Individual meetings were arbitrarily set up for Tuesday for the students with seemingly little regard for their time schedules. If a student wished to have legal counsel present, that student had to inform the Dean at least 3 business days before the meeting (if you don't want to do the math, this means they had until Friday, when the letters were received.) On Saturday, a secondary letter arrived informing the students that Dean Couture is actually considering a year-long suspension.

The University of Montana is billed as a liberal art university. We are taught in our classes to be critical thinkers and act on what we believe to be the moral high ground. Now we are being punished, possible quite severely, for being the minority group of students who 1. care about something passionately and 2.have the motivation to do something about it. I suppose it does pay to be apathetic, 'eh?

Dean of Students Couture can be reached at 406-243-6413
If you were under the impression that universities were suppose to encourage independent thought and action, or you happen to be a little bit pissed off that year-long suspension is on the horizon, please call him today and let him know.

We are also encouraging supporters to write letters to the editor to the Missoulian, the Independent, or any other paper.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tuesday's Meeting

Hey all you wonderful rights-lovin, people-supportin, hard-workin peeps!
Our next meeting is going to held at 6pm (as opposed to the normal 7) in the Board Room on the 3rd floor of the UC. Please come and help us plan and mobilize towards the end of the semester.
At 7pm, this Tuesday (the 29th), a peace activist named Brian Terrel from Iowa is coming to speak on the "Criminalization of Dissent." This will be heldin the Castle Room at the UM Law School. (sorry, I don't have specific directions and will be hunting for it, too) SESJ members will be attending (hence the changed meeting time) and will see you there!

Contact State Officials!

Since George Dennison gave a reverberating 'no' yesterday in one of the most unsatisfactory, rudely run meetings we've ever been to, we are asking supporters to contact our state officials. Please call, write, fax, and email Governor Brian Schweitzer and let him know about the situation. Would not hurt to contact Senator Tester, either! Contact information at the end of this blog.

Some good things to mention:
- The Designated Suppliers Program, once implemented, would ensure that our university apparel (anything with the Griz logo on it) would be purchased from certified factories that provide workers with a living wage, the right to organize, and other basic workers' rights.

-'The Designated Suppliers Program (DSP) is a comprehensive program for enhancing the enforcement of university codes of conduct. The DSP has been endorsed in principle by a substantial and growing number of universities, and is under active consideration by many others.'

--Students have been meeting with University of Montana-Missoula officials for 2 years asking them to sign a conditional letter of support for the Designated Suppliers Program

--A conditional letter of support would enable us to become part of the working group to ensure that DSP is acturally implemented and works for our university.

--Worker's lives are in jeopardy every day the program is not implemented.

--A 6 hour sit-in occured 4/16/08 in President Dennison's office before 9 people were arrested. The University has chosen to press charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct.

--Please add any personal commentary you feel necessary. Make it real and heart felt!

Governor Brian D. Schweitzer
Office of the Governor
Montana State Capitol Bldg.
P.O. Box 200801
Helena MT 59620-0801
(406) 444-3111
FAX (406) 444-5529

Contact Information
Web Site:

Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger
Office of the Lt. Governor
Montana State Capitol Bldg.
PO Box 200801
Helena, MT 59620-1901
(406) 444-3111, FAX (406) 444-4648

Link to email Senator Tester:

Missoula office:
130 W Front Street
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

Washington office:
Washington, D.C.
204 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2604
Phone: (202) 224-2644
Fax: (202) 224-8594

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Meeting with administration tomorrow

Hey guys, at 11:30 tomorrow (Wednesday April 23) members of SESJ are meeting with the administration in UC room 331 to discuss the DSP. We would like to encourage you all to come and sit peacefully outside of the meeting to remind President Dennison (who missed our rally) how much support there is behind an anti-sweatshop policy at the UM.
Here's some pictures from the rally to remind you all how much we can get accomplished when we come together for a cause.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

PANEL about sit-in

SESJ will be holding a panel at noon in the UC Atrium (outside of the market) on Monday April 21st (that's tomorrow!!) for everyone to ask questions about the sit-in.
We invite you all to participate

In solidarity,

Head Legal Counsel refuses to work with SESJ

Despite being told the fact that working up to our meeting on Wednesday with President Dennison we would be able to work with Vice President Foley, Provost Engstrom, and Head Legal Counsel David Aronofsky on drafting a conditional letter of support* for the DSP, SESJ received word via email stating that

"After your refusal to leave the building yesteday requiring your arrest I am not going to work with you at all any further unless and until President Dennison requests it. Deliberate violations of the law, even for causes one sincerely believes in, do not warrant University of Montana cooperation and I do not spend time with lawbreakers when I have plenty of other work to do."

David Aronofsky
UM Legal Counsel

*A conditional letter of support would state that the University of Montana supports the morals and principles of the Designated Suppliers Program and when the program receives a positive letter from the Department of Justice stating that the DSP doesn't break any anti-trust laws the University of Montana will participate. This is not a legally binding document. This letter would also allow UM to be part of DSP working group meetings.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sweat-Free Campaign Timeline and Facts

Sweat-Free Campaign Timeline and Facts

Students for Economic and Social Justice (SESJ), a student group at the University of Montana has been working for almost 2 years to ensure sweatshop-free Griz apparel. A major victory came last spring when UM affiliated with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), which does independent monitoring of factories producing collegiate apparel. This is not enough! The university needs to sign-on to the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP) as an enforcement mechanism for the WRC and our purchasing code of conduct.

SESJ works with the national group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) on the DSP campaign. USAS has a long history of student activism with impressive results. Sit-ins at Duke, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Michigan in 1999-2000 created the WRC. Sit-ins in 2006 at the University of California Riverside and the University of California Berkeley resulted in all of the University of California schools signing the DSP!

Why is the DSP Necessary?

The DSP in necessary to truly raise working standards for those making collegiate apparel, especially to ensure the right to organize democratic unions.

At the BJ&B factory in the Dominican Republic, workers unionized in 2003. This was the first unionized garment factory in the Dominican Republic. Last spring, workers were fired off and the factory closed because brands such as Nike and Adidas didn’t want to pay the higher wages to the union. The DSP will keep this from happening: As part of the program brands must pay a living wage and allow workers the right to organize!
In spring 2007 workers at the New Era baseball cap factory in Mobile, Alabama started organizing a union and were met with strong anti-union sentiment and layoffs. Because of pressure from the WRC and universities, New Era gave in to worker demands, a union was formed, and all laid-off employees were re-hired. The workers at New Era strongly support the DSP because they know it means universities are demanding higher wages and the right to organize for all workers making collegiate apparel!
The DSP will mean a fundamental shift in industry norms. Instead of suppressing unions, harassing workers, and firing employees, the dignified treatment of workers will be upheld as the primary goal!

Please help the University of Montana join these 42 schools in adopting the DSP:

Brandeis University, Brown University , California State University, Fullerton, Columbia University, Cornell University , DePaul University Duke University, Fordham University , Georgetown University , Grand Valley State University , Hamilton College , Indiana University , Marquette University, Oberlin College , Regis University , Santa Clara University , Seattle University, Skidmore College , Smith College , Syracuse University University at Albany, The State University of New York , The University of California- Berkeley , The University of California,-Davis, The University of California,-Irvine, The University of California- Los Angeles, The University of California,-Merced, The University of California- Riverside , The University of California,-San Diego, The University of California-San Francisco, The University of California-Santa Barbara, The University of California-Santa Cruz The University of Colorado at Boulder, The University of Connecticut, The University of Iowa, The University of Maine – Farmington, The University of Miami, The University of Washington, The University of Wisconsin – Madison, Ursinus College, Washington State University, Western Washington University


Thursday, April 17, 2008

SESJ in the media

The Missoulian,

The Missoulian,

The Missoulian,

Western Montana 360,

Montana’s News Station,

Montana’s News Station,

The Montana Standard,


Billings Gazette,

The University of Montana Kaimin,

The University of Montana Kaimin,

KX News,

Rally and sit-in at President Dennison's office results in 9 arrests

On Wednesday April 16, nine students entered University of Montana President George Dennison's office and refused to leave until the administration signed on in support of an anti-sweatshop policy called the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). Over one hundred students and community members rallied outside the administration's office in solidarity with the students sitting-in. The University administration later arrested the nine students, and charged them with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct.

For two years, students and community members throughout Missoula have been requesting that UM not purchase its apparel made in sweatshops. Students for Economic and Social Justice (SESJ) have organized rallies, fashion shows, letter deliveries, petitions, May Day celebrations, and street theater to convince the University administration to adopt a policy, which would ensure that Griz Gear is produced under fair working conditions. President Dennison and Vice President Foley refused to adopt the DSP – a program that 42 leading institutions of higher education around the country have already endorsed.

"I think it is unfortunate that the University of Montana administration chose to arrest students who were peacefully protesting, rather than tackle the real problem of ensuring that U of M apparel is not produced in sweatshops," said SESJ-member Kelly Driscoll.

The administration was reluctant to sign on in support of the DSP because of legal concerns, but the students argued that the University could issue a conditional letter of support for the program. The 42 other schools who have adopted the DSP, including the University of Washington and Washington State University, have issued similar conditional statements, and these colleges aren't going to implement the program until a positive review letter is received by the Department of Justice in the future.

"We want the University to take a stand against sweatshops by joining the DSP Working Group as a member, to create the conditions necessary to make the program work in the future," said Ella Torti, a student who was arrested and a member of SESJ. "Other big public universities have cited legal issues they want to see resolved before the DSP is implemented, and I don't see why UM can't issue a similar conditional statement in support of the program," Torti said.

The sit-in ended two hours after Main Hall officially closed, with students being handcuffed and then released into the outer lobby. They were greeted by over 50 student supporters, and later the University administration announced that President Dennison would meet with SESJ to negotiate whether to sign on to the DSP next Wednesday. This week, SESJ will be reaching out to its faculty allies to persuade the administration to drop all charges and move forward with signing onto the DSP. Additionally, on Monday SESJ members who were arrested will be holding an information session and teach-in to educate the University community about their sweatfree campaign. For more information, please feel free to email SESJ at, and visit

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Students are sitting in!

Right now students are sitting inside the University of Montana's president office and are refusing to leave until the Administration signs onto the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP), which would ensure that Grizzley apparel is made under conditions that pay workers a living wage, and respect their right organize unions. Please call President Dennison and Vice-President Foley today demanding that the University of Montana sign the DSP, and that students rights' to free speech are not infringed. Here is a sample script:

President Dennison: (406) 243-2311

Hello, my name is ______ and I am from ______. I was shocked to hear that the University of Montana is sourcing from sweatshops. I am calling to urge President Dennison to listen to the students, respect the rights of workers, and adopt the DSP. Thank you.