One of the Twelve Students who had occupied President Sample's office, wrote the following commentary less than fifteen minutes after the end of the occupation:
SCALE (Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation), a USC student organization, walked into an administration building this morning demanding an answer to a 2 year-long plea to end sweatshop labor on campus. For these last 2 years, SCALE has repeatedly presented the administration with educational material on sweatshop conditions, providing encouragement, and the opportunity, to sign a contract with a sweatshop monitoring program, WRC (Workers' Rights Consortium).
The current policy at USC includes an exclusive contract with Nike for all athletic apparel.
In addition, USC is currently a member of the FLA (Fair Labor Association), a rather faulty monitoring agency. FLA lost many human rights groups who were at one time in support of their role in the labor realms as established under the Clinton administration. But, as FLA failed to fairly monitor the companies it represented, support wained. In fact, the only remaining board members present on FLA are representatives of those companies who are accused of sweatshop labor practices. As SCALE puts it, this results in a "fox guarding the henhouse" sort of relationship.
USC has long held a code of conduct that insures proper labor management as related to any and all of their logo products. Because this code of conduct has failed to enforce business practices by companies such as Nike, and because the students' attempts to converse with the administration in a timely and beaurocratic fashion, direct action was taken as a last resort.
Accompanied by the National Lawyers' Guild, SCALE's participants negotiated with administration officials inside President Sample's office while a sea of students supported them from the outside.
After five hours of proposals, and counter proposals, an agreement was reached whereas USC will make a final decision whether to join the WRC by May 9th, the day before USC's graduation.
Without a doubt, the action was a success. In effect, the administration, though not bending to immediate demands, has been forced to see the student's force face to face; and work through a balenced, democratic negotiating process with the students who, by default, pay their salary. The fight, of course, is not over. If demands are not met by the said date (May 9), further action will take place. The voice of the students will be heard, and change will take place on a campus that has long been labeled as unmoveable.