Protest ends in empty office
They met, chanted and marched their way into an administrator’s office before realizing that the official in question was out of town.
UH Students Against Sweatshops, a student organization dedicated to protecting workers’ rights, marched into UH President Renu Khator’s office Thursday afternoon after organizing a rally outside the M.D. Anderson Library.
"The clothes in the bookstore are not sweatshop-free," UH Students Against Sweatshops founder Timothy O’Brien said.
The group intended to get Khator to sign the Designated Suppliers Program, a document that would guarantee workers’ rights and prevent harsh working conditions for workers who sew university logo apparel, according to the Workers Rights Consortium.
The group of approximately 20 students met at 4:15 p.m. in front of the M.D. Anderson Library with signs reading "Sign the DSP," "Shasta hates sweatshops" and "Make UH sweatshop free!"
The group march ended almost 30 minutes later, when Assistant Vice Chancellor of Planning and Initiatives Dan Gardner told them Khator was not in Houston.
Students within the organization said they wanted to meet with Khator to stop the sale of UH apparel made by sweatshops manufacturers.
The Student Government Association Senate passed legislation in January to encourage administration officials to sign the DSP.
"We got the DSP bill unanimously passed by the SGA and now we are waiting for Renu Khator to sign the bill," English freshman Rayah Bell said.
"If we keep letting people get horrible wages, how do we expect any economy to go up?" psychology and political science sophomore Ricardo Espinosa said. "If parents get bad wages then kids are forced to work and don’t have time to get an education. If there is no education, then how do we expect to break the cycle?"
O’Brien said that he believed former Interim President John Rudley lied about many of the issues concerning the DSP bill.
"(Rudley) refused to meet (with Students Against Sweatshops) before school ended when we asked," O’Brien said.
The group said it protested on Valentine’s Day because they felt they needed to show love to the workers
"We have to show the love to the workers," O’Brien said. "They need love too."
The organization said it is going to try again when Khator returns so that it can present the DSP to her.