The Sweat-Free Stanford Sit-In
Watch a video of the rally and sit-in on youtube

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Eleven students walked into President Hennessy's office, which is building 10 of Main Quad, and began a sit-in at 11:30am Tuesday morning to protest Stanford's inaction on sweatshops. They were arrested at around 4:30pm, as a crowd of 60 students chanted in support of the sitters.

Articles about the rally, sit-in, and arrests
How to Help
  • Call or Email President Hennessy: (650) 723-2481 and tell him to:
    • Join the Worker Rights Consortium and Designated Suppliers Program, which are independent monitoring organizations with teeth.
    • Drop charges against students, don't criminalize student voice
  • Sign our petition
  • Come out to actions!

Photos of Sit-in and Solidarity Rallies

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Blog Postings from those Inside
Throughout Tuesday, the people on the inside kept us updated with blog postings with their thoughts and updates on what was happening.

So I Guess I'm A Criminal Now...
Posted 23 May 07, 01:13am

This morning, we relocated to the main lobby with the assurance from the Administration that we would be allowed to stay there until 5 pm. After hearing wind about our 4:30 rally and the amount of media presence we pulled through, they decided to conveniently close the office early today at 4:15. They closed all the blinds to prevent anyone from seeing and used the backdoor.

We were promptly arrested around 4:30 pm.

[Postings Continued]

FAQs about the Sweat-Free Sit-in

We are aware that the sit-in has generated a great deal of campus discussion, both positive and negative. We would like to clear up some of the misunderstandings that have been spread about the sit-in and explain why we chose this method of protest. We believe this was the right action to take, and that it has brought desperately needed attention to a crucial issue.

What Happened at the Sit-In?

  1. Where did the sit-in happen?
  2. What's with the naked people?
  3. Did students defecate or pee in the president's office?
  4. Did the students expect to get arrested?
  5. If they expected to get arrested, why are they angry?
  6. Were the protesters actually booked? On what charge?
  7. Did you really need to spam all my lists?

Why do a Sit-In?
  1. What does it mean to be sweat-free?
  2. Why did you choose to do a sit-in now?
  3. What were the goals of the sit-in?
  4. Was this just a publicity stunt?
  5. Why not just do a boycott?
  6. Sure, you're protesting sweatshops, but what's your solution?

Where did the sit-in happen?
The sit-in occured at the lobby of building 10 in main quad, which is the president's office.

What's with the naked people?
Several brave students came to our rally wearing absolutely no sweatshop clothing, since they wore no clothing at all. The purpose of the naked protesters was to draw media attention to the rally since we could hardly advertise a sit-in. Many students on campus enjoy getting naked, and personally I think that it's a great thing when they want to get naked for a good cause. No one was arrested for being naked and no one doing the sit-in was naked.

Did students defecate or pee in the president's office?
No. No one at the sit-in peed, defecated, or threatened to do so in the president's office. The protesters brought kitty litter to make the point that they were serious about sitting-in the office until they were arrested. This is a common tactic for sit-ins, since it shows you intend to stay, and have planned for the sit-in. When sitters bring kitty litter, they are almost never refused the bathrooms.

Did the students expect to get arrested?
The 11 students who chose to sit-in knew that there was a strong chance that they would get arrested. They chose to do this act of peaceful civil disobedience, despite the possible legal consequences, because they believed that this issue is important enough to warrant immediate action. Civil disobedience is most meaningful because it illustrates that those who are participating care enough to face the consquences.

If they expected to get arrested, why are they angry?
We are angry that Stanford would rather arrest students than take a stand against sweatshops. We knew that arrests were a strong possibility, but we held out hope till the very end that Hennessy would understand that our action was in response to his inaction. More than anger at the arrests, we are disappointed and outraged that the Stanford administration has not yet taken action to ensure that its apparel is sweatshop free.

Were the protesters actually booked? On what charge?
All 11 students were arrested by Stanford police at the backdoor of the president's office. They were taken to the Stanford police center and cited with trespassing, a Class C misdemeanor. The students were then released and returned to campus. The Santa Clara district office will decide whether to press charges.

Did you really need to spam all my lists?
Over the course of the day, we sent out many emails about the sit-in and updates to numerous campus lists. While it's certainly annoying to get the same message from a half-dozen lists, we felt that this information needed to be sent out to the campus in order to help the sit-in succeed. We sent emails to lists that we felt were engaged members of the Stanford community and those that had ties to the people sitting-in. If you're irritated by our emails, detailed information on how to set up webmail filters can be found here.

What does it mean to be sweat-free?
We want Stanford apparel to be produced in factories that have safe, fair, healthy working conditions, factories without child labor, that allow their workers to unionize, and which pay a fair wage. We realize that many workers have very few options when it comes to working conditions, which is why we want to provide them with better options by supporting sweat-free factories. The issue is not whether sweatshops are good or bad, Stanford has already agreed that sweatshops are bad, the question is what method to use to ensure that Stanford apparel is produced in these sweat-free factories.

Why did you choose to do a sit-in now?
We chose to do this sit-in now to force the university to take action on an important issue. It was not a decision we made lightly, and it was not a choice we wanted to make. However, after three months of meetings with the administration and over a 100 hours of economic research to address their concerns, we believe that we have given President Hennessy enough time and information to act. Because this is a vital issue, we asked for a decision on April 20th, but we were ignored and not even given a specific date for when he would make his decision. Hennessy stated in his meeting with us in late January that he agrees with the objective of making Stanford apparel sweatshop-free, but he has offered zero evidence of his commitment to action in the time since. As negotions with the administration continued to offer only vague promises of sharing our objectives, we grew to see that the administration was stalling the campaign, not engaging it.

What were the goals of the sit-in?
The goal of the sit-in was for Hennessy to join the Worker Rights Consortium and Designated Suppliers Program, finally ensuring that all Stanford apparel is sweat-free. We also wanted to draw student, regional and national attention to this vital issue, to pressure Stanford to act. In the latter we succeeded, and we have hope that this will help us succeed in the former as well.

Was this just a publicity stunt?
While it is important to have media and student attention focused on the issue of sweatshops, the primary goal of the sit-in was for the administration to join the DSP and WRC. We chose to use direct action because sit-ins have succeeded for many univerisites. Harvard and Duke joined the WRC only after lengthy sit-ins (of course, they also didn't arrest their students after 5 hours). Much deserved praise has been given to the activists for their passion and their bravery, but at its heart the sit-in is about the cause, not the sitters, and they would be the first to say it. Much of the media focus has been on the sitters because it's easier to talk about people than to discuss an abstract issue, but remember that the sitters chose to act for their cause and that their cause is the most important part of the sit-in.

Why not just do a boycott?
We have considered, and rejected, the use of a boycott against Stanford clothing. We understand that factories provide necessary jobs for workers and we do not want to hurt the workers by urging a boycott. Our goal is to improve work conditions by joining the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). The DSP requires that our licensees use factories that are approved and regulated by the WRC and also gives them the opportunity to gradually improve their own factory conditions, so they can keep using the factories they already have and eventually add them on to the Designated Suppliers list. It allows licensees to do this over the course of a few years, so there is plenty of time for a smooth adjustment. Workers DO NOT lose their jobs under the DSP because it gives factories a chance to improve working coniditions with the guarantee that manufacturers CANNOT move production to another, cheaper factory with lower standards, which is something that is known to happen under the current status quo.

We are not simply protesting sweatshops, we are also offering a solution in the form of the DSP and WRC. The DSP offers a solution--workers can keep/get jobs and work under humane conditions at the same time! There is no reason that sweatshop labor should be the only employment option for workers. For those who would like to read up on the program , the proposal for the DSP can be read here.

Sure, you're protesting sweatshops, but what's your solution?
We have offered a thouroughly researched solution, one that we proposed to Hennessy in our first meeting in January: Stanford should join the Worker Rights Consortium and Designated Suppliers Program. For three months we addressed the administration's concerns by putting in over a 100 hours of economic research, holding phone conferences from officials who manage the programs, and writing a final report. We have given Hennessy the same information that has already prompted 172 universities, including Harvard and the UCs, to join the WRC. The administration has agreed with us that there is a problem, but they seem unwilling to decide on a solution. As students we have tried to give the administration everything they needed to make the right choice, we have studied the issue and we have offered the current best solution.