Announcing: The AWOL Bulletin Board


What is it? The Bulletin Board is a new feature here at AWOL. It caters primarily to AU clubs and organizations, but it’s open to everyone. Do you have a story to tell or something interesting to say that we missed? This is your chance to write it yourself. AWOL was created with a vision of empowering students who do good things. The Bulletin Board is our newest way of deepening that vision, allowing you to use this magazine as a vehicle to speak about the issues that matter to you.

How does it work? We’ll accept submissions of 250 words or less: articles, essays, press releases, but not advertisements. Tell us how your environmental organization convinced a local business to offer more organic foods, or how much the fair trade movement has grown on college campuses. Tell us why AU should offer more evening classes, or why narrowing the achievement gap in D.C. public schools is important. Tell us anything. The specifics aren’t important; what’s important is that it be something you care about and want others to know about.

Send your piece to us at [email protected]. It will be edited for length, clarity and style — but not content. We’ll publish as many as we can in the print edition of the magazine, giving preference to the most insightful and interesting pieces. All the rest will be posted on our website.

Making AU a Fair Trade Campus

Fair trade is about connecting consumers more directly with the suppliers of a whole wide range of products. It is about acknowledging that, as consumers, we have a responsibility to buy products for which we know the creators are receiving a fair livelihood.

Fair trade certification labels stand as a guarantee that the product you are purchasing was produced with special attention to the welfare of its producers, as well as the environment. The label is also symbolic of efforts to transform a broken and unjust world trade system.

For almost 10 years, the AU Fair Trade Student Association (FTSA) has been pushing for the expansion of fair trade products on campus and in the local community. Our persistent campaigning helped bring many fair trade products to campus, like coffee from the Dav or the Pura Vida Coffee offered by Bon Appétit. In 2005, we infamously worked with other groups to block a wholly unfair trade Starbucks from opening in the Mary Graydon Center in favor of a fair trade coffee shop.

This year the FTSA is campaigning to get AU itself to be “fair trade certified.” First, this means making fair trade products available in every store and restaurant on campus and making their use  standard for University events. In the long term, it means creating mechanisms to ensure that products the University buys come from suppliers who take good care of their producers. •

American University Fair Trade Student Association
[email protected]

Support Medical Marijuana in DC

In 1998, the people of Washington, D.C. passed a referendum to legalize the use of medical marijuana for patients with glaucoma, cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis. But Congress, wielding the ultimate legislative authority over the city, did not allow the D.C. government to enact the results. Despite the fact that 69 percent of voters thought patients should have the right to treat pain and illnesses with cannabis, the referendum was shelved. Every year, Congress (in which the people of D.C. have no vote) renewed the ban and denied medicine to the ill. Every year, that is, until now: this July, Congress finally let the will of D.C. voters become law, and medical marijuana can now be used in the District with the recommendation of a doctor.

But there’s a catch. The law only permits the use of marijuana from District-sanctioned dispensaries. And no such dispensaries exist. Mayor Fenty’s adminisitration had been (slowly) outlining a set of proposed rules to establish legal outlets for the sale of medical marijuana. Now that Fenty is on his way out, it will be up to Mayor-elect Vincent Gray and his staff to give sick patients the medicine they need. And we here at AU’s chapter of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) will be watching and advocating to make sure that happens. •

Students for Sensible Drug Policy
[email protected]