CCA students receive fair trade recognition from advocacy group

CCA students in the fair trade campaign with Principal Brett Killeen after their fair trade recognition.
(Fair Trade Campaign Canyon Crest Academy)

Canyon Crest Academy became the first school in the district, and one of the first in California, to be recognized by an advocacy group that promotes fair trade.

“We’re committed to fair trade education and events, and we also source fair trade products at our school,” said Sarah Strasberg, one of the CCA students involved in the campaign.

The recognition came from Fair Trade Campaigns, which recognizes towns, schools and other organizations throughout the country for promoting Fair Trade practices, according to its website.

Other schools that have been recognized by Fair Trade Campaigns include Academy of Our Lady of Peace and St. Martin of Tours Academy, in addition to other organizations such as San Diego First Church of the Nazarene and St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Goals that the CCA students have include sourcing fair trade products in the cafeteria and working with elected leaders on laws that uphold international social justice.

“Our daily choices have ramifications across the globe,” said Karthik Jandhyala, another one of the CCA students in the campaign. “What we choose to buy or not buy has such an impact on the world. We should use that power for the better in advancing human rights across the globe.”

The fair trade campaign at CCA began in part to advocate for changes in the Alien Tort Statute, which grants U.S. federal courts power over certain lawsuits filed by citizens of other countries due to alleged violations of international law. A proposed amendment called the Alien Tort Statute Clarification Act, which has previously been introduced in the U.S. Senate, would give workers in other countries the standing to sue U.S. companies over human rights violations.

In a recent case, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 8-1 to throw out a lawsuit alleging that two American companies, Nestle and Cargill, aid and abet child slavery by purchasing cocoa from the Ivory Coast. Six people from Mali, who said they were trafficking victims and used as child slaves for cocoa production, filed the suit.

But the court ruled that there needed to be “more domestic conduct than general corporate activity common to most corporations” for the case to prevail under the Alien Tort Statute.

“Nearly all the conduct they allege aided and abetted forced labor — providing training, equipment, and cash to overseas farmers — occurred in Ivory Coast,” read the court’s opinion. “Pleading general corporate activity, like ‘mere corporate presence,’ ... does not draw a sufficient connection between the cause of action respondents seek and domestic conduct.”

“I want to do my part in stopping this from happening,” CCA student Kloe Godard said.

The students have met with Sen. Scott Peters and a staff member from Sen. Alex Padilla’s office. They’ve also applied what they’ve learned in their other classes.

“Balancing the entrepreneurial side and the ethical side is an important thing for me,” CCA student Dean Le said.

“Especially since a lot of us are seniors and we’re graduating this year, it’s been really nice to see the juniors and more underclassmen stepping up,” CCA student Joyce Lin said, “and we hope that this club and campaign and fair trade movement will progress even further after we graduate.”