On the 8th of December, the Georgetown Solidarity Committee decided they have had enough of Georgetown University’s refusal to cancel their contracts with Nike. At 10AM, a crew of students occupied the University President DeSioia’s office, then at around noon a much larger solidarity rally marched into the building and occupied the lobby in front of it as well. As of 6:30PM Dec 8 students are still holding out.
Georgetown’s athletic programs have long been partnered with Nike, but Nike is now refusing to allow the Workers’ Rights Consortium access to their factories and is refusing to comply with Georgetown’s Code of Conduct’s policy on living wages. Athletes forced to wear Nike’s shoes have resorted to taping over Nike’s corporate logo at some games.
Nike actually offers a Georgetown branded Air Jordan sneaker, part of their notorious line of overpriced shoes assembled in sweatshops in Vietnam, then sold for as much as $200, mostly profit.
Nike has long been infamous for sweatshops, back in the WT0/Seattle era Nike was often targetted by anti-globalization protesters. There are those of us who remember that Niketown was one of the few businesses smashed by the masked anarchist Black Bloc at the Nov 30. 1999 Battle of Seattle. The WTO’s 1999 ministerial opening ceremonies were forcibly shut down in that round of protest and street fighting. The rest of the talks then got nowhere. The relaunched Doha Round of talks ended in defeat a few years later.
Nike still has not learned, so now they are being hit with divestment campaigns like the campaign at Georgetown University. In the past the Georgetown Solidarity Committee has held barefoot days and delivered petitions for divestment from Nike but these have been ignored.Thus the need to take it directly to President DeSioia by occupying his office until Georgetown dumps Nike and Nike Air Jordans either are no longer made in VIetnam’s sweatshops-or are no longer made at all. The “Swoosh” may soon be swishing down the toilet at Georgetown-unless Nike finally decides to abandon the sweatshop model of production for sub-living wages. There is a report in the Guardian that “deplorable” conditions in Nike’s factory in Vietnam may mean this is the last year for those Nike Georgetown Air Jordans.
Perhaps Georgetown University President DeSioia should visit the archivists at Columbia University to talk about what happened in 1968 when Columbia refused to listen to students opposed to the “Army Math” research program there and a gym that encroached on Harlem. He could also visit nearby University of MD to talk about the sit-ins and adminstration takeovers that resulted from university ties to the former Apartheid regime in South Africa. It does not pay for any university to defy the students who pay their bills with those outrageous tuition checks and a lifetime of debt.
Banner on the outside of the Adminstration Building
The president’s office is behind the doors in the back of this photo. More students are inside
Thumbnail from an online live video feed shows the students inside Georgetown President DeSioia’s office
Another view of the occupied lobby outside the also occupied University president’s office