FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  Date: February 4, 2003

         Contact: Donna McCracken, 206-6716


UIS students to attend fair trade coffee conference


SPRINGFIELD Gillian Nichols-Smith and Liz Moran, students at the University of Illinois at Springfield, have been accepted as participants in the Oxfam America Fair Trade Coffee conference to be held February 13-16 in New Orleans. Approximately 30 college freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are expected to attend the program which will focus on training the students to lead campaigns to convince campus food services to carry only fair trade coffee.

With prices at an all-time low, the world’s coffee industry is in crisis. Nevertheless, major companies continue to post large profits, partly by refusing to pay coffee farmers less than the cost of growing the beans. Oxfam launched its “What’s That in Your Coffee?” campaign in the U.S. last September and nearly 150 college campuses around the country have planned activities in protest of coffee companies’ practices.

Nichols-Smith, a second-year student in UIS’ Capital Scholars program, was alerted to the possibility of attending the conference by Karin Cotterman, campus program coordinator for student volunteers and service learning. Moran, also a second-year Capital Scholar, was already aware of Oxfam’s fair trade efforts and jumped at the chance to attend.

“I’m excited to be given the opportunity to train with some of the world’s most influential social justice activists,” said Moran. “Students need to become conscientious consumers. People would be shocked to learn the destruction caused by something as simple as a


cup of coffee, and this campaign will give them a chance to do something about it.”

 “I am thrilled to have this chance to aid farmers around the world,” said Nichols-Smith. “It’s a way to begin doing what I have always wanted to do: Go abroad and help when and where I can.

“I’m planning a career in medicine,” she added, “and I believe working to help people achieve a decent standard of living goes hand in hand with working to keep people alive.”  

Oxfam America trains college students to become actively engaged in social justice issues and is an arm of Oxfam, an international development, relief, and campaigning organization founded in 1942 and dedicated to finding lasting solutions to poverty and suffering around the world.

The Capital Scholars program is open to students entering their first year of college who have demonstrated high academic achievement and a potential for creativity and leadership. A four-year baccalaureate program, Capital Scholars combines an integrated core of general education courses with study of a foreign language and any of UIS’ 20 undergraduate majors.

For more information about Oxfam’s fair trade coffee initiative, go to For information about the Capital Scholars program, go to