YUSU’s shabby ethical policy shows some things merit saying more than once
So why exactly does Nouse find itself repeating the same stories ad nauseam? Why is there yet another piece about the ethical implications of T-shirts or security on campus? Is it purely because, in a campus the size of York, we are left with nothing to report on, so instead of publishing 44 pages of lovely pictures of ducks, we chose to recycle age-old stories? While it’s possible to accuse student media of being excessively repetitive, it would appear there is a reason behind this. Stories reappear for the simple reason that they remain relevant. Why exactly is this so?
It would appear the student body as a whole is overcome by a lack of ability to stand up and instigate changes. When informed that Viking Raid T-shirts were produced by Fruit of the Loom, a company well-known for unethical working conditions, most people did little more than shrug. This isn’t because people actively supported exploitation. It instead highlights a general feeling of society’s selfish apathy – if it doesn’t actively harm you, should you really go out of your way to change things? Who cares if some workers in China are being exploited? If it means your bar crawl ticket costs a few pounds less than it would if YUSU used more ethically sourced clothing, all is good in the world. Of course, not everyone was happy with this decision. In the weeks running up to the Viking Raid, posters started showing up all over campus, informing students what they really already ought to know.
And yet tickets for Viking Raid still sold. It appeared that people weren’t willing to let their SU know they were unhappy with use of unethical brands by the most effective way, simply boycotting the event. Though organised by RAG, all the money raised for worthy causes was surely sullied somewhat by the fact that they were also helping bankroll a company whose clothing is produced in sweatshops. Not only that, but the use of Fruit of the Loom clothing grates against the Union Code which demands that YUSU “will purchase, where practical, from suppliers graded highly by the NUSSL Environment and Ethics Committee”.
It really didn’t seem a huge surprise when it was announced the Roses merchandise was sourced from Fruit of the Loom. They’d managed to get away with it once before, why not try again?
Had people responded with more than a whimper it would become clear to YUSU that exploitative clothing was not want students wanted. Had they sold no tickets for Viking Raid, it would become obvious that maybe they ought to think a bit more carefully about the choice of companies. But they didn’t.
Once again, we ran a story about Fruit of the Loom, to the general dismay of detractors. “Oh,” they muttered as they picked up their copy of Nouse in Vanbrugh. “Another story about Fruit of the Loom? How original.” But what they don’t realise is that only they are in a position to make sure we never again write about Fruit of the Loom. They could run for the editorial team and then fill the paper with nice pictures of ducks, or, much more simply, they could not sit mutely by as YUSU?continues to support unethical companies.
Nouse needs to keep repeating itself, because people are very unwilling to work toward change. Stories remain significant for months on end because student action on campus is nearly invisible. YUSU continues to ignore the voice of the student because the student just can’t be bothered to yell loud enough.