The day had dragged on forever, and freshman John’s world seemed to consist of little beyond exams, readings and papers. However, as John sprinted happily away from his History 101.5 “Labor Violations and Corporations” class, he had a wide grin on his face. He was on his way to the bookstore in the Michigan Union basement.
John wasn’t headed to the Barnes and Noble to buy some books — those prices are really nothing to smile about. Instead, he was on a mission to pick up some swag. Not the walking type of swagger — John had already inherited his father’s unmistakable gait — but the nice, comfortable, loose-fitting type of swag he so proudly dons at all Michigan sporting events.
Once John and all of his Wolverine pride arrived at the bookstore, he glanced around for some apparel to try on. He spent the next hour finding the right fit and feel. Finally, he gazed at himself in the mirror, all decked out in maize and blue, and told himself, “Damn, I look good.” He decided to buy a sleek new tracksuit, a chic striped scarf, yet another obnoxiously bright yellow t-shirt, and headed to the cashier to complete his purchases.
John hadn’t yet taken the time to check out the brand of his selections — he was rather taken with himself in the mirror. But en route to the check out, he noticed that the maker of these new garments was none other than Adidas. He recalled something a visiting speaker from United Students Against Sweatshops had told his class one day — he had even glanced up from Facebook to listen to this presenter. He remembered the USAS member saying that, for two years now, Adidas has refused to pay $1.8 million in legally owed severance to 2,800 Indonesian factory workers. He was so surprised by this injustice that he had visited badidas.com to learn more, and read about USAS’s mission to protect workers who produce University apparel from sweatshop-like conditions. He even signed the online USAS petition against Adidas.
It was then John had a change of heart. Instead of buying the new maize-and-blue gear, he decided to express his Wolverine pride in a different way. On April 1st, 2013, John became an activist. He marched over to the Fleming Administration building and climbed up two flights of stairs to University President Mary Sue Coleman’s office. He then asked that the administration remove items produced by Adidas items from the bookstore because, as he put it, “Sweatshops are no joke.”
Sorin Panainte is an LSA freshman.