LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Siena College became the first college in New York state and the third in the country to be granted Fair Trade status earlier this month. The institution is also the first Roman Catholic college to earn such a distinction.
“Today is a very proud moment for Siena College,” said president Kevin Mullen, OFM. “We are called to be responsible citizens of the world, and this shows that we are doing more than taking part. We are taking a lead.”
As a Fair Trade college, Siena offers various products — including coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate — that support fair pay and working conditions for farmers and producers. The initiative also upholds children’s rights to security and education and encourages environmental sustainability.
“Siena has taken a bold step in advancing the Francis mission of the college,” said Shannon O’Neill, a leader in the effort to get Siena Fair Trade status. “Fair Trade inherently works toward building a world that is more just, peaceable and humane.”
The honor was celebrated Nov. 9 by students, faculty, staff, and several government leaders, according to a Siena news release.
The process of becoming a Fair Trade college began two years ago through a student-led initiative by 2010 alumnus Mike Ellement and junior Ben Thomas. Both were integral in the formation of the Fair Trade Steering Committee that presented the idea of obtaining Fair Trade college status. Political science professor Vera Eccarius-Kelly and O’Neill, the director of the Sister Thea Bowman Center for Women, guided students in their efforts.
Information about Fair Trade and other justice and peace related projects of Holy Name Province ministries can be found on the Justice and Peace page of the HNP website.