‘Sweatshop’ or ‘Sweet Stop?’

Students hungering for a work ethic need to check out this brand new AB trip

The Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ) and the Alternative Breaks (AB) board have announced a new trip for the upcoming year: Students will have the option to travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to work in the sweatshops where Xavier apparel is made.

The announcement is one of many new changes coming to the CFJ following their February partnership with the Williams College of Business to make the center more profitable.

“After realizing that we spent around 75 percent of our budget just buying t-shirts, we decided that we needed help cutting costs,” CFJ Director Greg Carpinello said. “This new AB trip will make it so that our t-shirt cost will be halved, which will give us the freedom to do more in the community.”

The trip, though still in the works, has some definitive aspects to its itinerary. Some of the planned events are a day spent exposing the students to toxic fumes and, of course, at least 60 hours spent laboring in the sweatshop. There will be a day blocked out simply for diarrhea as a result of the dirty water that students will be drinking.

Students have already begun to express their excitement about the new opportunity.

“I’m really into economic justice,” first-year social work major Nick Hellwig said. “I think it’ll be a great experience learning what being exploited feels like. It’s something I personally have never experienced as a White man.”

Junior Hannah Schulz agrees with Hellwig and is looking forward to the trip and others like it.

“I love sewing, and I’m hoping that I’ll get accepted for the trip so that I can hanker down and hone my skills alongside those who are the best in the world at it,” Schulz said. “I don’t care that much about all the social justice stuff, but it will also be a great chance to really go out and see the world.”

Not all students are in support of the new trip, such as senior George Georgeson, who believes it will be “just another voluntourism thing.”

“Look, the entire ‘Alternative Break’ thing is just a way for students to travel around and have fun, going out to bars and clubs and whatever,” Georgeson said. “I mean, I’ve never gone on a trip and don’t really know too much about it, but everyone who goes seems to have fun, and there’s no way you can have fun and make a difference.”

When asked if he would elaborate on his feelings, Georgeson declined, saying that he had “said enough about everything.”

However, Father Michael Graham, president, has been supportive of the new changes that are to come as a result of the partnership.

“Personally, I believe it will be beneficial to both sides,” Graham said. “On one hand, the university will hopefully be able to become more financially sustainable, which fits perfectly into our Jesuit values. On the other hand, I’m really hoping that this will mean business students will be able to learn the real cost of engaging in capitalistic exploits.”

Some of the other ideas that have been tossed around include changing many of the X-Change locations from low-income communities to schools in higher-income neighborhoods, as they are quickly becoming areas that are underserved by many social justice groups, and hiring a member of the Westboro Baptist Church to be a minister to help add diversity to CFJ staffers.

“All of the new changes are really going to help us out, and I think this will give the CFJ an interesting new path,” Carpinello said. “You can only grow if you engage with things outside of your comfort zone, and here in the CFJ, we are pretty uncomfortable with business stuff and whatnot. We’ll probably grow and learn a lot.”

The Bangladesh trip, and others to be announced, will be offered in fall 2019 and spring 2020.

By: Scooter Boodle | Bearded Dragon Enthusiast