USAS members hold protest over weekend
By Lindsey Parrish | 10/12/2014 8:50pm
UA students inform peers and administration about workers' rights Saturday afternoon. The event involved students marching from Lloyd to the Ferguson Center where the group broke out into a flash mob to a Destiny's Child song. Photo Courtesy of Lindsey Parrish
The United Students Against Sweatshops held a regional conference Saturday on campus that drew over 30 student activists from Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. Students organized to further their goal of having the University affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent organization that monitors the systems producing all University of Alabama apparel.
On Saturday participants marched and chanted from Lloyd Hall to the Ferguson Student Center, where the group broke out into a flash mob to the tune of “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child. USAS members left the Ferguson Student Center and continued their chants to Denny Chimes, ending with another flash mob at the President’s Mansion.
The students carried signs and recited chants such as, “Ain’t no power like the power of students ‘cause the power of the students don’t stop.”
The event disbanded around 2:45 p.m. when UAPD informed the group they were trespassing and asked them to leave the President’s Mansion.
According to USAS members, an affiliation with the Consortium would ensure all University of Alabama apparel is ethically made by monitoring production and establishing transparency within production.
In the last year, the UA chapter of USAS, a core group of 10 people, met twice with administration members, including President Judy Bonner, interim Vice President of Student Affairs Steven Hood, Vice President of Financial Affairs Lynda Gilbert and a representative from the SUPe Store, to explain its cause. The group’s demand has been unmet, and according to USAS member Mark Ortiz, cost was the reason cited.
The student activists chose Saturday’s action to demand the attention of the administration. Because according to USAS members, the group applied for and was denied a grounds use permit that would have allowed for peaceful demonstration four days before the scheduled action.
AJ James, a junior majoring in microbiology and Spanish, said the current grounds use policy inhibits spontaneous freedom of expression.
“Police told us anything past the sidewalk was trespassing,” James said. “I told them that students pay for that mansion. We accomplished what we came to do.”