Fair Trade complaints sometimes moot

Nothing demonstrates TCU students’ collective apathy toward social issues more than the “Fair Trade coffee cycle.”It’s a cycle where a small group of idealistic student activists known as the Frogs for Fair Trade, bug TCU Dining Services about the absence of Fair Trade coffee on campus to the point where you can actually buy it in Frog Bytes or the Main.

A few months later Dining Services will stop buying Fair Trade coffee due to low demand and shortly thereafter it becomes unavailable again and the whole process starts over.

You can lead a Frog to coffee but you can’t make it drink.

TCU students just don’t buy Fair Trade coffee. It seems they would rather keep their 10 cents than support a product that was produced ethically.

Until the Frogs for Fair Trade can educate students to share their passion, the Fair Trade coffee cycle will continue.

Every year the same articles will come out in this very paper just like they have in years past.

In February of 2006 the headline “On-campus Starbucks to offer fair-trade coffee” appeared in this paper. It was the first article about how Fair Trade Coffee was being sold on campus.

The following September, a similar headline showed up: “Frog Bytes serves up Fair Trade coffee.”

This article explained how throughout the summer Dining Services pulled Fair Trade coffee from Frog Bytes because of low demand but, after pressure from the Frogs for Fair Trade, Fair Trade coffee came back to Frog Bytes.

In September of this year, right on time, we get this headline: “Dining Services: Low demand spurs cut in Fair Trade coffee.” This one is pretty self-explanatory.

It’s just a matter of time before Frogs for Fair Trade can muster up enough support to convince Dining Services to buy more Fair Trade coffee.

So about 10 or 15 of these Frogs for Fair Trade members will meet every Wednesday night in Panther City, discussing and plotting ways to cause enough of a stir about Fair Trade on campus to get what they want.

And the cycle continues.

But this cycle isn’t really the one we should be worried about.

We should be worried about the cycle of debt and poverty that coffee farmers in South America are being forced to endure because they are receiving prices for their coffee that are less than what it costs to produce it.

We should be worried about the cycle of drugs and crime being created in these communities because people are forced to abandon growing coffee in favor of growing illicit crops which are more profitable.

So when the next step of the Fair Trade coffee cycle occurs and the product comes back to campus you should go out and buy a cup.

If you don’t, be prepared to read the same articles in the Skiff every semester.

Alex Zobel is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Albuquerque, N.M.