Virtually all universities, no matter how pro-labor, anti-oppression, and socially progressive, get their clothing (you know, those sweatshirts they sell in the bookstores, the official clothes the basketball team wears) from sweatshops in China.

The University of Notre Dame, a college known for its causes, however unpopular, is one of the few to prevent the companies that make its clothing from producing the textiles in China.

According to an article by Mark Drajem in Bloomberg:

Ten years after adopting the policy, Notre Dame remains the only major U.S. university that forbids license holders such as Adidas AG (ADS) to put the school logo on any product from China, according to groups that track college merchandising.

Notre Dame prohibits the goods because China, the top source of U.S. imports, doesn’t permit independent labor unions, according to a college policy document. The ban is attracting fresh attention from Washington lawmakers who say China has begun a renewed crackdown on dissidents.

The Notre Dame China ban is attracting the attention of lawmakers According to the article:

“What Notre Dame is doing is very, very important,” Representative Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican and chairman of the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees trade, said in an interview. “China is a particularly bad place to do outsourcing, and the American people are totally opposed to it.”

Well maybe only sort of opposed to it. Somehow Wal-Mart seems to continue to be a popular shopping destination, despite the fact that some 70 per cent of the products sold at Wal-Mart are made in China.

Just because the clothing is not made in the People’s Republic of China, however, doesn’t mean it’s made in the USA or other democracies; Latin America is also a popular source region for inexpensive clothing. According to the article, Notre Dame-branded products sold on campus were made Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti and Vietnam.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer