This past Thursday, President Kerwin sent a memo to the entire campus community. The “Statement of Social Responsibility Principles for AU Business Partners,” as it was titled, outlines the University’s principles of how businesses with which we contract should act.
We applaud the University’s newfound commitment to social justice, and we wait with hope for actions to be taken that will implement these principles.
However, this is only a first step.
We recognize that many of the points in the statement are very important in furthering the creation of a truly socially responsible university.
In the past, there has been a profound lack of commitment from the University administration toward providing real structures that ensure accountability from our outside business partners.
In the verification section of the statement, the administration calls on these business partners to “use [their] best efforts to comply” with the principles.
Self-monitoring of businesses has been proven to never actually ensure that ethical standards are upheld. Outside enforcement, in the form of University pressure, has been proven again and again to be one of the only effective means for enforcing codes of conduct.
We hope that the administration will take the most important step and be proactive in the enforcement of this code.
We want to make sure that students become a critical part of the institutions of social responsibility here at AU.
We call upon the administration to make a significant commitment to student input and decision-making as this process moves forward. We also want to re-affirm our position in calling for more transparency on the part of the University administration on issues concerning the University budget and investments.
Only with student participation in all levels of University administration will we truly create the “New AU” that we all deserve.