Students Against (Possible) Sweatshops Fight On

Apparently, a day can’t go by without dramatic development in the neverending battle between the Students Against Sweatshops group at the University of Houston, and the university itself.

In a press release SAS issued this morning, the group claims that a member of University President Renu Khator’s staffed “physically blocked” them from entering the reception area outside Khator’s office. The students wanted to leave a letter – a “poster-sized letter,” actually.

The SAS claims that Chief of Staff Daniel Gardner “put his hand on the door entrance” and told the group they needed an appointment in order to enter the reception area. (Oh! The drama!!)

Here's how UH spokesman Eric Gerber described events:

Chief of Staff Dan Gardner met a group of students preparing to enter the Office of the Chancellor/President. He asked if he could help them and was informed that they had material they wanted to deliver to President Khator. Explaining he was her Chief of Staff and official representative, Gardner offered to accept the material, which included two posters. When the students insisted they wanted to deliver it personally, Gardner said that attempting to do that would be disruptive to the staff working inside and again offered to accept it. The students placed the material on the floor and left.

Oh!! The drama II!!

In case you’re just joining this soap opera mid-season, here’s the gist: Students Against Sweatshops, without any evidence, is accusing the university of slapping its logo on apparel manufactured in sweatshops. And the university, without any evidence, is saying it is in no way tied to sweatshops. All in all, a very intellectual debate one would expect from serious scholars.

(UH says it convened a task force that mostly talked with Barnes & Noble, which runs UH’s Bookstore, and they satisfied themselves that B&N had a handle on the whole sweatshop thing. The university also joined the Fair Labor Association, an anti-sweatshop group that SAS doesn’t think much of.)

SAS’s spokesman, Timothy O’Brien, is also accusing the university of cutting his graduate funding because of his criticism against The Man. He says he plans to file a federal suit against UH on July 29, accusing the university of violating his civil rights. Stay tuned for more.

Or maybe not. At least until someone produces some evidence one way or the other.

-- Craig Malisow

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