Dear UF President Kent Fuchs,
We are writing to you on behalf of a multitude of concerned students at UF over the egregious human rights violations. These include child labor, sexual violence and slavery, flourishing with impunity in the Mexican export agriculture industry where Wendy’s buys its tomatoes.
Over the past four years, students and faculty at UF have demanded Wendy’s be removed from campus until the fast-food company joins the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Presidential Medal-winning Fair Food Program.
The FFP is a world-renowned human rights initiative that ensures humane wages and dignified working conditions by harnessing the purchasing power of more than a dozen of the world’s largest retail food brands.
In a few short years, the FFP has radically transformed conditions for more than 52,000 workers on farms from Florida to New Jersey.
A CNN special report features the eye-opening story of a tomato picker named Alejandrina Carrera, who contrasts the nightmare of being fired from a farm in Florida after being sexually assaulted by a male supervisor with the new reality of working under the groundbreaking protections of the FFP.
In Carrera's words, “You’re not going to be harassed, you’re not going to be insulted, you’re not going to be forced to work. There’s more respect now.”
All of the major fast-food corporations — McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell, KFC and Chipotle Mexican Grill — have joined and are enforcing the FFP’s golden standard of human rights in their supply chains. All except Wendy’s.
We condemn UF’s complicity in the ongoing epidemic of sexual harassment, assault and other human rights violations by allowing Wendy’s to continue leasing space on our campus.
We are aware the Wendy’s on campus is owned and operated by FFP buyer Aramark, UF’s food service provider since 1995. The UF administration has refused to take steps to cut ties with Wendy’s because it claims the fruits and vegetables used for Wendy’s burgers and salads sold on campus are procured through Aramark’s supply chain and therefore sourced from FFP-certified farms.
We are very proud of the courageous student movement at UF that spurred the momentous agreement between CIW and Aramark in 2010; however, that is not an acceptable answer to our demands for removing a corporation that profits from women’s suffering from our campus.
UF does not tolerate sexual harassment and abuse of any kind on campus. No questions asked. So why put UF’s reputation at risk by meddling in business with a company that unconscionably refuses to take meaningful action to eradicate sexual violence and other human rights abuse in its supply chain?
It is no secret thousands of farmworker women are forced into silence by the grabbing clutches of fear, violence and corruption that define the agricultural industry in Mexico.
In the era of #MeToo, we must lift up real, enforceable solutions to stamp out and prevent sexual harassment and assault in the workplace — and hold corporate giants like Wendy’s responsible for failing to rid their supply chains of human rights violations.
As stakeholders of all matters tied to UF, we will not accept the influence and presence of a fast-food brand on campus that looks the other way as farmworker women sacrifice their dignity to feed their families.
We urge you, Mr. Fuchs, to use your power and unyielding compassion to uphold UF’s commitment to “demonstrate respect for human dignity” to all by removing Wendy’s from our campus.
We’re requesting to meet with you in person before the end of the academic term to discuss this important and timely matter.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Vice President, Chispas UF
Chispas UF is a pro-immigrant student organization at UF.