Chocolate companies linked to child slavery and human trafficking

By Natasha Christian America’s love for chocolate has no borders. From dipping everything imaginable into chocolate fondue to the classic story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the candy has melted its way into American hearts. Major chocolate corporations feed the hunger America has for chocolate. However, a tragic trend  is slowly dominating headlines about companies that practice unethical production, using human trafficking and child slavery on the cocoa farms. The businesses receive cocoa from fields in West Africa, which use improper child labor and illegal human trade to harvest and pick cocoa beans to supply the ingredient on a mass scale for American   companies. Nell Green works as an Internationals Ministry Network coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She represented the organization during UMHB’s Mission Emphasis Week last month and gave a brief explanation of the issue during a human trafficking seminar. She said, “Organizations … have been identified, have been chastised, have been fined. … Yet they still refuse to correct their act.” For senior psychology major Amanda Gigante, who attended  Green’s seminar, the irony of the situation is appalling. She said, “America represents freedom…. And doing these things, such as having child labor, I believe that’s just against what America is. It’s wrong.” Chocolate companies have known about the child slavery for a decade. However, they are not taking legal action to  protect the children. A national protest has ensued. A petition to legalize Fair Trade 2012, an act to end child slavery specifically on cocoa plants, is gaining momentum across the nation. So is a boycott of chocolate businesses that use slave labor. Countries in West Africa, like Ghana and the Ivory Coast, predominately profit from cocoa plants and supply the beans globally. They are also well known for adult and child slavery. Due to so many cocoa farms, owners use “quick and able bodies,” Green said, to plant and also pick the beans. The conditions the children face are horrific, and the abusive system takes a toll physically and emotionally on the workers. Green said, “Those who own the fields and those who are buying from these fields know that these families are in a vulnerable situation. … So the children are forced to work extremely long hours … and they can abuse the giving of salaries.” Because Africa has some of the poorest nations, child labor is not only an option but a necessity for many families. Green said, “You have to understand the extreme poverty of the Third World country. There is no description.” To prevent forced labor and provide a legitimate wage for child workers on the farms, she believes...

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Non-traditional students seek to find niche

By Nicole Johnson It is the middle of the afternoon and freshman interdisciplinary studies major Lori McDaniel is finally bound for home after a grueling overnight shift at work followed by an exhausting full day of class. The 44-year-old single mother now has to focus her attention on the most important aspect of her life, which is being the matriarch of her family. She, along with more than 20 percent of the student population, is considered a non-traditional student. The term is used for students over the age of 25, married or who have children. For many, finding a balance between school, work, raising children and being a spouse is a task that is easier said than done. But for McDaniel, the problem is overcome by sheer determination and standing strong in her faith. “The one thing that works for me is always, before anything else, make sure that you have that time alone with God sometime during the day. You have to make that a priority. And then everything else tends to fall into place,” she said. McDaniel explained that the advantage of being a non-traditional student is she brings life experiences to the classroom. While her professors are speaking about certain issues and events, she can relate because she has lived through them. The disadvantage, however, is the generation gap. Being substantially older than her peers creates uncomfortable circumstances that result in being an outsider. Graduate management student Ruby Bowen, 32, is a wife, a mother, works full-time and is currently pursuing her life-long dream of becoming a commercial pilot. She explained that when her higher education journey began, she struggled with finding her place. “You don’t really fit in anywhere. You need someone to point out where you can fit in,” she said.  “I did not feel like I fit in when I first started college. I felt like I had to go ‘hey guys, notice me.’” Over time Bowen became involved in activities at the university that aided her integration into student life. She motivates other non-traditional students to do the same.    “Find your niche. And if there isn’t one, then make it,” she said. “That’s the best thing you can do. You just have to make yourself get involved.” Non-traditional students have many reasons for pursuing a degree in this season of their life. For some it is a matter of raising their children before receiving their degree while others do it for the success of their family. Many students just want to simply begin a quest toward a deferred dream. But for senior art education major Iona Gazzola, it was all of...

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Young and hungry roster will lead Lady Cru
Nov15

Young and hungry roster will lead Lady Cru

By Spencer Turner When the team takes to the court Nov. 18 for its opening contest of the 2011-12 campaign, it will boast a roster rich in talent and potential but short in collegiate experience.  A total of 11 freshmen join a squad that witnessed five of its members graduate last May. Amid this new infusion of youth, however, the Lady Cru remain confident as the new season approaches. “We believe we have a shot at the conference championship,” said seven-year Head Coach Kim Kirkpatrick-Thornton. “We realize they’re lofty, but we work towards the small goals first and build upward. The greatest goal is to learn to play to our potential all the time, no matter who we face.” Kirkpatrick-Thornton also stressed the team’s desire to earn a berth in the Division III championship tournament in March. Junior nursing major Brandy Dittert is one of seven starters returning from the previous year’s squad.  Sidelined by an injured anterior crucial ligament in the beginning weeks of last season, she is eager for the Lady Cru to put their first-round exit from the American Southwest Conference tournament behind them. “For the talent we had, it was not the finish we had in mind,” she said. “It wasn’t easy to sit through.” Dittert expressed the same eagerness to become a team leader. “I’m an upperclassman, and now it’s my turn to fill the leadership role,” she said. “It’s nerve racking, but I want to be in that position.” Senior interdisciplinary studies major Miranda Shorter, a four-year veteran of the program, voiced similar excitement in providing guidance to her younger teammates throughout the upcoming season. “I like being in that role,” she said.  “I’ve had good role models before me on the team to look up to.” Both returning starters understand from firsthand experience the steep learning curve younger members of the team must negotiate. “You can’t expect freshmen to know what it’s like to play college teams right away,” Shorter said. “They’ll get it, though. We’ve all been there, and we know what it’s like. The biggest key is working together as a team and getting them into our style (of basketball).” Despite the lineup’s shortage of collective playing time, Dittert and Shorter emphasized the competitiveness and versatility that define the group. “There’s such a variety of players; everyone can contribute in so many ways,” Dittert said. “Our team has people with the biggest heart for the game.” Shorter said, “The (freshmen) will be good. All the returners have such confidence in them.” Kirkpatrick-Thornton  praised the diligence, hustle and coachable demeanor exhibited by each player on and off the court. “This may...

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United Way, a different way to serve
Nov15

United Way, a different way to serve

For students interested in cultivating and improving Belton, the campus chapter of United Way of Central Texas may be what they are looking for. Mary Beth Kelton, a graduate student studying for a master’s in business, is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the organization. “We are a safety net for the local community,” she said. “United Way of Central Texas agencies provide aid in family, crisis, support, youth and specialized services.  Each year it funds 27 local social service agencies that provide over 200,000 services to our family, neighbors and friends.” The agency focuses on long-term results rather than quick fixes. “We work together with the community to find lasting solutions to better people’s lives. We do that through promotion of education and common health,” Kelton said. “Without a good education, you can’t get a good job to help provide for your family. Without a good job, you don’t get good health care.” Freshman psychology and Christian ministry major Krystal Draper is president of the group. Upon arriving on campus, she was overcome by all of the ways to serve, but after searching, United Way seemed to be the perfect fit for her. “When I got here … it was so overwhelming because there were so many different things to get plugged into,” Draper said. What initially attracted her to the United Way group was its openness. “I liked that it is just so up in the air, and we really are trusting God to move forward in it. It’s so new, and we want to do so much and have people that really like being involved. It really gives you a voice about what you want to do and how you want to serve,” she said. Freshman international business major Seth Stephens operates as treasurer for the branch on campus. The opportunity to not only build relationships with the younger children, but to also be a role model to them  appealed to Stephens. “One of the things we are doing, is there is Wildcat mentor program in Temple where you go and be a mentor for a fifth-grade student. That really appealed to me because I have done that before,” he said. A community­-wide coat drive will be held Nov. 18 at Bodega Bean from 7-10 p.m. “Bring coats,” Stephens said. Students interested in joining can contact Kelton at 254-778-8616. Kelton said, “I felt it was very important for students here to get involved because there is already such a base for serving on campus. I wanted them to be involved with United Way. It is a great way to serve. The university already had a serving mentality,...

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SUB now keeps later hours, offers better Wi-Fi access

By Jake Stamps The SUB is now open 24/7 as of Oct. 31. Students will have more reliable Wi-Fi access as well as the option to hang out with friends or study in the early morning hours. With the help of the Student Government Association and Vice President for Student Life Dr. Bryon Weathersbee, a bill was passed to have the SUB open around the clock. “This will allow students to have a place to go, but students still need to be responsible and take care of the area. Be the school’s eyes,” Weathersbee said. As the news hit campus, students were happy with the decision. Sophomore Spanish major Collin Davies is a member of the university’s Student Government Association. “This change is the result of students expressing their desires to SGA and letting us take initiative and explore the routes necessary to accomplish the goal,” he said. This is a great example for students to learn how they can influence decisions on campus.” Sophomore accounting major Katie Fuqua pulled an all-night study session with friends. “We had an exam the following day, and we needed to make sure we would get an A. We all met up and studied till around 5 a.m. We then went to Starbucks right before the test. It was one long night, but we all passed, so it was definitely worth it,” she said. Sophomore education major Jordyn Russell and junior nursing major Whitney Almond agreed that the new hours will help not only them but other students as well. “Since the SUB will now be open at all hours, it will be more convenient for students to have somewhere to go after the library closes. The SUB is also a really good place to go, whether it’s to get together to study or to just hang out. I have hung out at the SUB before and plan to go back more often with these new hours,” Russell said. Almond agrees. “This is great for everyone and will allow people to hang out at all times. This will also allow everyone to have better access to socialize and/or study,” she said. Freshman business management major T.J. Kittrell also likes the new hours and easy Internet accessibility. “I will enjoy having the SUB open 24/7 because it will not only give me a better opportunity but other students a place to talk to friends or study. Having this new schedule will help everybody because it will allow those students who have conflicts with their schedule a chance to go to the SUB,” he said. “The SUB is also a great place for reliable Wi-Fi....

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