AGENDA wants to know what you think! Send letters to: Editor, AGENDA, 220 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Please include your address and phone number (not forpublication). AGENDA reserves the ríght to edit [lor length) or reject any letter. I am writing in response to AGENDA's March 1997 cover story, "'M' Goes Swoosh! U-M's 'Great Fit' With Nike," by Michael Betzold. It is disturbing that this University which emphasizes diversity, ethics and bettermentof society, is allowing the Nike representati ves to con vi nee our facul ty and coaches that this contract will benefit the school. "The deal with Nike greatly benefits U-M athletics, university officials say." All 23 varsity teams will receive free shoes and uniforms, scholarships, and "base compensations" will be given to the football and basketball coaches. That is great for athletes and coaches, but what about the rest of the University community? We do not see free shoes or free money; no, we see the mark-ups on "swoosh" gear and "authentic" U-M apparel. Our community does not benefit; not only are we allowing our officials to choose our University' s fashion, we are allowing the University of Michigan to support Nike's "slavery in the 1990' s" faetones. I find that it is embarrassing and contradictory that the University has signed this unethical contract with the Nike Corporation. Not many students, faculty, athletes, andor coaches can imagine what slavery is like, since in the United States it has been outlawed for over 100 years. Yet, in Third World countries like Indonesia, forms of slavery are part of everyday life to the Nike factory worker. These faetones that produce the University of Michigan's "authentic" gear pay workers less than minimum wage, have mandatory overtime, and have one bathroom break in an eighthour shift. Workers occasionally get beaten or abused for imperfect work, are not allowed to form unions or ask for raises, and are not allowed any days off. These workers, usually women ages 15 to 28, live below government poverty levéis, are undernourished, live in oneroom shanties, and have no chance to improve their living conditions. All of this, just for free shoes, I ask? The damage has been done; the University is happy with the stipends given to the coaches and free shoes for the players. What I am asking for is awareness. I want students and faculty to know that they pay hundreds for "authentic" U-M gear, for example, shoes that cost upwards of one-hundred dollars cost Nike only $2.60 for labor. Starving people that work the Nike factories do not see these profits! These profits are landing in the hands of multi-millionaire CEO's who think that nothing is wrong in the Indonesia factories. In fact, Nike is "proud of the role [ they ] played in helping to build economies in developing nations." Our University is supporting a $6 billion a year sports industry made from high markups and cheap labor. Get with it U-M! Admit to your "ignorant fashion" and do something about it. I pay top dollar to attend this public university and I expect that the University perform with a little more dignity.
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