Town of Media honors Brandywine with fair trade award

Just two months after Penn State Brandywine was declared a Fair Trade University, thanks to a student-led campaign, the campus was honored with the Regional Fair Trade Award by the Media Fair Trade Town Committee. Media, where the campus is located, was the first Fair Trade Town in America.

Holding the designation of a Fair Trade University means the campus is dedicated to raising awareness of the movement and embedding its principles within administrative policy and the social fabric of the academic community. More specifically, it means the campus sells or uses a number of products with a fair trade seal, indicating they are made by workers who are paid a living wage, treated with dignity and work in safe, comfortable conditions, according to a document created by the students.

The award was presented to the students, known around campus as the "Fair Trade TrailBlazers," and their adviser, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences Laura Guertin, during the town's Bastille Day festivities on July 14.

"The town of Media has been a mentor to us and has taken the time to make sure we feel good about the movement," said junior Sarah DeMartino, one of the leaders of the campus' fair trade movement. "It's really great to have an organization like that say 'good job.' Media is a close-knit community ... it's nice to have a constant to lean on, to talk to as things are happening. The award is really special for us."

Senior Louis Donaghue added, "Fair trade is all about building a community. It felt good to be recognized by our own community ? they do really cool stuff in Media."

The students are planning a number of awareness events for the campus community for the upcoming academic year. They are working with the campus bookstore to host their second t-shirt swap where students can bring in their gently used t-shirts and swap them for a fair trade Penn State Brandywine shirt. All used shirts are donated to Planet Aid, a nonprofit organization that collects donated clothing and shoes to protect the environment and support sustainable development in impoverished communities around the world, according to its website.

A Fair Trade S'mores Fest is in the works for August and there will be a number of events on campus celebrating October as Fair Trade Month.

The students are also mentoring an area elementary school that is interested in earning the fair trade designation. The campus will offer a one-credit course during the spring 2013 semester that will focus on Brandywine's involvement in Media's Fair Trade Festival in May.

For more information about new and developing events, follow the Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade blog at online.