Presidential tea invites community members to discuss fair trade issues

Approximately 100 members of the Geneseo community attended a tea held by Interim President Carol Long at her home on Monday Oct. 6. This event is the first of two to be held his semester. Long began by introducing the theme of the event: the utilization of fair trade products and encouraging Geneseo’s commitment to increasing fair trade practices on campus. She promoted the discussion of the sustainability, state and condition of oppressed workers in developing nations, mentioning the 10 Principles of the United Nations Global Impact.

Founder and president of the Geneseo Fair Trade Club junior Benjamin Conard is at the forefront of the Fair Trade Campaign on campus. Conard saw the President’s tea as an outlet for information on fair trade policies because tea is not grown in the United States, making it a popular fair trade product.

“I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of fair trade products already being sold on campus,” Conard said.

Conard believes that fair trade can have a powerful impact if given the chance of “becoming a standard—it’s the way you do business, there’s no unfair trade and it’s a natural way of including human rights.”

These efforts coincide with other initiatives the Geneseo administration has taken recently, including the introduction of environmentally-friendly residence and dining halls, offering certified organic coffee at Books & Bytes and creating an Office of Sustainability.

Long encouraged students, faculty and members of the community alike to engage in conversation.

The teas at Long’s home began last semester when she suggested the idea in an attempt to show appreciation for community integration.

“I was trying to set up a way to use the President’s house to bring people in to have conversations—student, faculty and staff alike,” Long said.

This year, the event drew its audience through faculty invitations. Long stated that with the reelection of the new president for the next school year, there is no time for third and fourth presidential teas. The date of the next tea is yet to be announced.

The teas are not to be confused with the past World Café’s that Long has hosted on campus. These cafés were designed to facilitate discussions about what students want to see in the future college president.

Discussions on the hiring of a new college president are still in progress. Last year’s World Café Conversations were taken into account by the selection committee.

To learn more about the World Café conversations, Long encourages individuals to visit the presidential search website, which includes a summary of those conversations. She states that the decision on who the new college president will be will be announced in spring 2015 and said president will be inaugurated in July 2015.