It’s been quite a week for Alta Gracia at Vanderbilt University! In just a few days, the student newspaper published a feature story on Alta Gracia, CEO Joe Bozich visited his alma mater to tell the Alta Gracia story, the new Barnes & Noble campus bookstore made its grand opening, and today, a class of freshmen psychology students chatted with Alta Gracia workers over Skype.
My name is Ari Schwartz and I’m a senior at Vandy. For the first time in my four years here, students are talking about how the simple decision to buy a shirt in the bookstore can be so much more: that a purchase can be a stand for dignified and just working conditions, a stand for solidarity with the people of Villa Altagracia, and a stand for a new business model, where workers and consumers are not separated by thousands of miles but connected by a common goal. Vanderbilt students are talking about how an apparel factory can enrich an entire community and how a corporate model can blaze a progressive trail in an industry, not just pursue the bottom line. Most important of all, Vanderbilt students are talking to Alta Gracia workers like Maritza Vargas via Skype, realizing that the t-shirt you purchase can help shape the apparel industry—making clothing lines around the world pay the people who sew the clothes a living and dignified wage.
One of the psychology students on the Skype call asked me today: “What can we do to make sure Alta Gracia succeeds?” She already knew the answer. We, students at Vanderbilt, have to prove to Alta Gracia and to our bookstore that we support living wage, union-made clothes, that we believe “changing lives one shirt at a time” is more than a slogan. We’re on our way to doing that here at Vanderbilt – one purchase, one Skype call, and one newspaper article at a time.
For more information about to join the Common Threads Movement and support Alta Gracia on your campus or in your community visit our Get Involved page.
Like us on Facebook. Tag us and post photos of you and your friends sporting your Alta Gracia gear. Show your campus bookstore some love and post those photos on their page too.
Follow us on Twitter. Tweet about us, retweet us, and of course don’t forget to send some shout outs to your campus bookstore for carrying Alta Gracia.
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