Answers regarding USC-licensed products and student protests

April 25, 2014

Do USC’s licensed vendors use manufacturers in Bangladesh?

No USC licensed vendor is producing USC merchandise in Bangladesh. The standards and requirements of USC-licensed vendors are among the most stringent in higher education. A timeline of university actions is available at http://trademarks.usc.edu/social-responsibility/history/ and reproduced below. More information is available at http://trademarks.usc.edu/social-responsibility/.

Why are students protesting?

The parent company of a USC-licensed vendor has a presence in Bangladesh.  The USC-licensed vendor itself does not.  The parent company’s position on manufacturing in Bangladesh is available at http://wecare.vfc.com/

Has the university listened to the students?

USC administrators have met with students on these issues many times over the past several years. These discussions have led to concrete results, including USC’s joining of the Workers Rights Consortium in 2013.

Did USC stop students from protesting?

Students are free to protest, and the exercise of free speech is a core academic freedom. However, disrupting university business, for example with loud protests inside a building or office, violates the student code of conduct.

Ainsley Carry, vice provost for Student Affairs, released the following statement regarding a student protest on April 15, 2014:

“I informed the students protesting inside the Bovard Administration Building of their rights and responsibilities in relation to protesting on campus. The students were informed that if they chose to continue to disrupt university business with loud protests inside the building or by staying inside the building after the hours of operation that they would be given a letter of interim suspension. The students would then be required to go through the student judicial affairs process and, if found responsible, could face sanctions up to and including suspension. A student that is suspended would likely face the loss of any university scholarships.

“All students were informed of this potential and given the right to make a decision as to their conduct. No letters of interim suspension were handed out. Students are free to protest outside the building.”

Social responsibility at USC

USC was among the first American universities to fully implement standards for licensees and their subcontractors, and has a long history of taking action:

2013 – USC affiliates with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights monitoring organization that conducts investigations of working conditions in collegiate apparel licensee’s factories throughout the world.

2012 – USC has 175 active retail licensees all of whom have signed an agreement to adopt USC’s Workplace Code of Conduct. These licensees have also agreed to regular third-party social compliance monitoring to help verify that the code of conduct is being followed

2011 – USC receives over 125 new license applications. In large part due to the university’s social responsibility compliance requirements, less than 20% of new applicants are granted license agreements

2010 – USC releases Licensee Social Compliance Manual to all current and prospective licensees; among the first-of-its-kind among universities, the Manual provides detailed information and instruction on USC’s licensee standards, requirements and processes. See
here.

2008 (September) – USC allows 30 additional licenses to expire due to the unwillingness of those licensees to make a thorough effort to identify and remediate noncompliances with USC’s Workplace Code of Conduct

2008 (May) – USC joins the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP) Working Group in order to collaborate with other universities in addressing labor rights issues at the national level

2007 (September) – USC allows 88 licenses of retail products to expire due to the unwillingness of the licensees to meet USC standards for third-party compliance monitoring

2007 (May) – USC requires every USC licensee to submit to a third-party audit(s) to monitor compliance with the USC Workplace Code of Conduct

2006 – All new USC licensees are required to demonstrate systems and processes for monitoring and responding to worker issues in all facilities and those of their suppliers

2005 – USC strengthens licensing application to review history of corporate social responsibility programs designed to ensure compliance with USC’s Code of Conduct

2004 – USC licensees’ facilities are independently externally monitored by the Fair Labor Association

2001 – USC strengthens purchasing systems to ensure that all vendors selling logoed promotional products for USC departments sign a license agreement that includes USC’s Workplace Code of Conduct

2000 – USC joins the International Labor Rights Fund, a program designed to introduce and train non-governmental organizations worldwide in factory monitoring