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Georgetown students end sit-in over university’s ties to Nike

Georgetown University, shown in 2012. (Photo by Jeffrey MacMillan )

A two-day student sit-in at Georgetown University in protest of the school’s licensing agreement with Nike ended late Friday after the university accepted their conditions and promised that the school’s president would meet to discuss their concerns by Wednesday.

Seventeen Georgetown undergraduates took over president John DeGioia’s office on Thursday morning to demand that the school cut its licensing agreement with Nike because of what they say are unfair labor practices at the company’s factories in Vietnam. The university’s licensing agreement with Nike — which is separate from its sponsorship deal with the company — is set to end Dec. 31.

The students had vowed not to leave until they had received a written commitment that the school’s contract with Nike will require the company to allow independent access to monitor working conditions in its overseas factories. That stipulation was agreed to, said Daniel Zager, one of the students involved in the protest.

Georgetown students take over president’s office to protest ties with Nike

The students, who call themselves the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, said they held the sit-in to protest working conditions at Nike factories where Georgetown University apparel is manufactured. They pointed to a recent report by the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor monitoring group, that alleged poor treatment of workers including padlocking them into the factory, not allowing bathroom breaks, temperatures in the factory that averaged above 90 degrees and the firing of workers who become pregnant.

The students wanted the university to not renew its contract with Nike unless the contract included language that expressly allowed the WRC to conduct independent inspections and reports of Nike factories.
In a statement, Georgetown University spokeswoman Rachel Pugh said that DeGioia would meet with the students to discuss the ongoing negotiations with Nike; confirm that the school will only sign a contract that ensures independent access and reporting for the Worker Rights Consortium to investigate complaints in a timely manner; and to discuss the topic of labor codes and how they might be incorporated into a future agreement with Nike.

Sabrina Oei, a Nike spokewoman, said in a statement that the company remains hopeful of reaching an agreement on Georgetown’s licensing contract.