In the fall of 1997, students at Duke University formed the group Students Against Sweatshops (SAS) to push the Duke administration to create and adopt a code of conduct policy that would require the companies that manufactured Duke apparel and merchandise to uphold workers’ rights and eliminate the use of sweatshops.
In September of 1997, members of SAS sent a letter to Duke president Nan Keohane informing him of their intentions. When he did not respond by the end of October, SAS members sent hundreds of emails to the administration demanding that they begin a dialogue.
Within a week, President Keohane set up a meeting between administrators and SAS members to discuss the possibility of creating a code of conduct policy.
SAS members helped push the administration to create tough standards by threatening to embarrass the university with public protests regarding the unethical business practices of the companies in which Duke invested.
After this campaign, the SAS group turned its attention to other labor issues and grew into a national organization, but its presence on Duke’s campus helps to ensure that the university upholds the original code of conduct policy.