Faculty to Sexton: Cut JanSport!

Today, 60 NYU faculty members sent a letter to President JCut JanSportohn Sexton asking the administration to end its contract with JanSport because the brand has failed to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Over 1200 workers have died in the past two years in preventable factory fires and collapses in Bangladesh and the Accord is a legally binding agreement brands can sign to prevent such tragedies.

The NYU administration has maintained that it will not end its contract with JanSport because the brand itself does not produce for NYU in Bangladesh, although JanSport’s parent company has nearly 100 factories there.

Students and faculty agree–these kind of technicalities can’t stand in the way of worker safety. It’s time for NYU to cut JanSport!

Read the full letter.

April 23rd, 2014
Dear President Sexton,

We write as a group of concerned faculty in regards to the university’s ties with the VF Corporation, the parent company of JanSport that produces NYU apparel. We urge you to reconsider the current course of action on this issue and support calls by worker organizations in Bangladesh and student groups on campus that ask NYU to terminate contracts with garment manufacturing companies that refuse to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. VF Corporation is one of several US companies (along with Walmart among others) that refuses to sign this accord and thereby endangers the lives of Bangladeshi workers.

The Tazreen Fashion factory fire of 2012 and the Rana Plaza factory of 2013 make up some of the worst industrial accidents in history. A wide range of civil society organizations, including labor rights groups in Bangladesh and abroad have determined that the Accord on Fire and Building Safety is a baseline requirement to prevent future disasters and for conditions of work to meaningfully improve in the country. As a

global network university, NYU should be at the forefront of ensuring that companies that produce garments featuring the university’s logo adhere to humane and safe standards of production. VF Corporation, JanSport’s parent company, fails to meet these basic criteria and as a university community we must respond with meaningful action.

As the parent corporation for JanSport, VF Corporation is being deceptive about its direct ties to college apparel production in the US. Along with companies like Walmart and Gap, VF Corporation publicizes its adoption of a non-binding agreement (the Alliance for Bangladeshi Worker Safety) that has been widely critiqued by labor and human rights activists as ineffective in ensuring worker safety and, in effect, advancing self-promotion rather than self-regulation. These corporations use public relations exercises to deflect the most serious violations of worker and human rights.

NYU prides itself on being a global university and with this positioning comes global responsibilities. If NYU takes action to promote the well being of workers and their communities its actions will have significance on a global scale. We call on NYU to take a leadership position on this issue and act expeditiously to require that VF Corporation sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety as a condition of continued business with NYU.

Respectfully,
Theresa Aiello, Associate Professor of Social Work
Sinan Antoon, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School
John Archer, Professor of English
Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School
Emanuela Bianchi, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature
Joy Boyum, Professor Emerita, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions, Steinhardt
Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication and the Gallatin School
Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication
Marie Cruz Soto, Clinical Assistant Professor, the Gallatin School
Dipti Desai, Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art Professions
Carolyn Dinshaw, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and English
Lisa Duggan, Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
Stephen Duncombe, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School and Department of Media, Culture and Communication
Allen Feldman, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication
Valerie Forman, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School
Miriam Frank, Master Teacher, Liberal Studies
Sharon Friedman, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School
Toral Gajarawala, Associate Professor of English
Tejaswini Ganti, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Kathleen Gerson, Professor of Sociology
Faye Ginsburg, David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology
Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology
Linda Gordon, Professor of History
Manu Goswami, Associate Professor of History
Greg Grandin, Professor of History
Hannah Gurman, Clinical Assistant Professor, the Gallatin School
A B Huber, Assistant Professor, the Gallatin School
Priscilla Karant, Master Teacher, American Language Institute
Rebecca Karl, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies
Arang Keshavarzian, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
Thuy Linh Tu, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis
Zachary Lockman, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
David Ludden, Professor of History
Sydney Ludvigson, Professor of Economics
Ritty Lukose, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School
Mo Ogrodnik, Associate Professor, Film and Television, NYU Abu Dhabi
Randy Martin, Professor and Chair of Art, and Public Policy
Sally Merry, Professor and Chair of Anthropology
Fred Myers, Professor of Anthropology
Vasuki Nesiah, Associate Professor of Practice the Gallatin School
Molly Nolan, Professor of History
Bertell Ollman, Professor of Politics
Dana Polan, Professor of Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts
Rayna Rapp, Professor of Anthropology
Debraj Ray, Silver Professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor of Economics
Fred Ritchin, Professor and Chair of Photography and Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts
Avital Ronell, University Professor of the Humanities, Chair of the German Department
Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis
Kimberly K Phillips-Fein, Associate Professor, Gallatin School
Dean Saranillio, Assistant Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis
George Shulman, Professor, the Gallatin School
Nikhil Singh, Associate Professor of History and Social and Cultural Analysis
Kathryn Smith, Associate Professor of Art History
Judith Stacey, Professor Emeritus of Social and Cultural Analysis
Marita Sturken, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication Lala Straussner, Professor Silver School of Social Work
Helga Tawil-Souri, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication
Sinclair Thompson, Associate Professor of History
Jim Uleman, Professor of Psychology
Alejandro Velasco, Assistant Professor, the Gallatin School
Angela Zito, Associate Professor of Anthropology

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