Letter on JanSport

Dear President Sexton,

We write as a group of concerned faculty in regards to the university’s ties with the VF Corporation, the parent company of JanSport that produces NYU apparel. We urge you to reconsider the current course of action on this issue and support calls by worker organizations in Bangladesh and student groups on campus that ask NYU to terminate contracts with garment manufacturing companies that refuse to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. VF Corporation is one of several US companies (along with Walmart among others) that refuses to sign this accord and thereby endangers the lives of Bangladeshi workers.

The Tazreen Fashion factory fire of 2012 and the Rana Plaza factory of 2013 make up some of the worst industrial accidents in history. A wide range of civil society organizations, including labor rights groups in Bangladesh and abroad have determined that the Accord on Fire and Building Safety is a baseline requirement to prevent future disasters and for conditions of work to meaningfully improve in the country. As a global network university, NYU should be at the forefront of ensuring that companies that produce garments featuring the university’s logo adhere to humane and safe standards of production. VF Corporation, JanSport’s parent company, fails to meet these basic criteria and as a university community we must respond with meaningful action.

As the parent corporation for JanSport, VF Corporation is being deceptive about its direct ties to college apparel production in the US. Along with companies like Walmart and Gap, VF Corporation publicizes its adoption of a non-binding agreement (the Alliance for Bangladeshi Worker Safety) that has been widely critiqued by labor and human rights activists as ineffective in ensuring worker safety and, in effect, advancing self-promotion rather than self-regulation. These corporations use public relations exercises to deflect the most serious violations of worker and human rights.

NYU prides itself on being a global university and with this positioning comes global responsibilities. If NYU takes action to promote the well being of workers and their communities its actions will have significance on a global scale. We call on NYU to take a leadership position on this issue and act expeditiously to require that VF Corporation sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety as a condition of continued business with NYU.

Respectfully,
Theresa Aiello, Associate Professor of Social Work Sinan Antoon, Associate

Professor, the Gallatin School John Archer, Professor of English

Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School

Emanuela Bianchi, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature

Joy Boyum, Professor Emerita, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions, Steinhardt

Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication and the Gallatin School

Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication

Marie Cruz Soto, Clinical Assistant Professor, the Gallatin School

Dipti Desai, Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art Professions

Carolyn Dinshaw, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and English

Lisa Duggan, Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis

Stephen Duncombe, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School and Department of Media, Culture and Communication

Allen Feldman, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication

Valerie Forman, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School

Miriam Frank, Master Teacher, Liberal Studies

Sharon Friedman, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School

Toral Gajarawala, Associate Professor of English

Tejaswini Ganti, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Kathleen Gerson, Professor of Sociology

Faye Ginsburg, David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology

Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology

Linda Gordon, Professor of History

Manu Goswami, Associate Professor of History

Greg Grandin, Professor of History

Hannah Gurman, Clinical Assistant Professor, the Gallatin School

A B Huber, Assistant Professor, the Gallatin School

Priscilla Karant, Master Teacher, American Language Institute

Rebecca Karl, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies

Arang Keshavarzian, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Thuy Linh Tu, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis

Zachary Lockman, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

David Ludden, Professor of History

Sydney Ludvigson, Professor of Economics

Ritty Lukose, Associate Professor, the Gallatin School

Mo Ogrodnik, Associate Professor, Film and Television, NYU Abu Dhabi

Randy Martin, Professor and Chair of Art, and Public Policy

Sally Merry, Professor and Chair of Anthropology

Fred Myers, Professor of Anthropology

Vasuki Nesiah, Associate Professor of Practice the Gallatin School

Molly Nolan, Professor of History

Bertell Ollman, Professor of Politics

Dana Polan, Professor of Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts

Rayna Rapp, Professor of Anthropology

Debraj Ray, Silver Professor, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor of Economics

Fred Ritchin, Professor and Chair of Photography and Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts

Avital Ronell, University Professor of the Humanities, Chair of the German Department

Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis

Kimberly K Phillips-Fein, Associate Professor, Gallatin School

Dean Saranillio, Assistant Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis

George Shulman, Professor, the Gallatin School

Nikhil Singh, Associate Professor of History and Social and Cultural Analysis

Kathryn Smith, Associate Professor of Art History

Judith Stacey, Professor Emeritus of Social and Cultural Analysis

Marita Sturken, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication

Lala Straussner, Professor Silver School of Social Work

Helga Tawil-Souri, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication

Sinclair Thompson, Associate Professor of History

Jim Uleman, Professor of Psychology

Alejandro Velasco, Assistant Professor, the Gallatin School

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