Rutgers University severed its ties to the sports apparel giant Adidas Group on Monday, responding to student concerns about the company's obligation to workers at a former Indonesian manufacturing plant.
The company is no longer licensed to use the Rutgers name or logos, university spokesman E.J. Miranda said. After the campus bookstores' stock of Adidas gear is sold, it will not be reordered.
Rutgers president Robert L. Barchi announced the decision in a letter to Rutgers United Students Against Sweatshops, which began an anti-Adidas campaign in August.
"I applaud your commitment to workers in developing countries and your efforts to advocate on their behalf," Barchi wrote. "I agree with you that Adidas' refusal to acknowledge its responsibilities . . . is not consistent with the values of this university."
Students claimed Adidas had refused to pay severance to the employees. Other businesses involved with the PT Kizone factory, including Nike and the Dallas Cowboys, have contributed to severance, but Adidas owes $1.8 million to more than 2,800 employees, according to the group.
"The urgency of the PT Kizone case is something that we really emphasized," said sophomore Anna Barcy of Ridgewood, N.J., an organizer in the student group. "The workers in Indonesia have gone two years without their severance."
Rutgers is the fourth school to cut ties with Adidas as a result of the nationwide student campaign. Cornell University, Oberlin College, and the University of Washington also have terminated their contracts or plan to not renew them.
In a statement Wednesday, Adidas said it was disappointed by Rutgers' decision, which it called unwarranted.
"We are confident we are adhering to and in fact exceeding both the spirit and the letter of the codes of conduct our university partners require," the statement read. "We honored all terms of our contract, paying the factory owners every penny owed for the business we did."
The company said it had no role in the decision to close PT Kizone.
Months before they "unethically" closed shop, the factory's owners told Adidas they could no longer accept its manufacturing orders, the statement said.
The move to drop Adidas goods comes as the Rutgers brand is on the rise, Barcy said, citing the school's enlarged footprint from statewide higher-education restructuring and the university's recent announcement that it would enter the Big Ten.
Demand for Rutgers-logo products is going to go up, Barcy said, and "Adidas will be losing out in the opportunity to take part in that advertising boom."
Rutgers ended its license agreement immediately, said Miranda. The student group received the letter on Tuesday from Barchi, who became the university's 20th president in September.
In their largest action at Rutgers, members of local chapters of United Students Against Sweatshops held an organizer "boot camp" on Nov. 17 and 18, and staged a protest with a flash mob and picket line at the New Brunswick campus bookstore.
"It definitely has been a relatively quick campaign," said sophomore Hannah Roe of Montclair, N.J., another of the organizers. "We used the action and the boot camp to make sure this wasn't pushed to the sidelines."
Students at other schools in the area have been involved in protests against on-campus vendors.
At Richard Stockton College near Atlantic City, the Student Senate last week formally requested that the school cancel its contract with Chick-fil-A. Students had protested the company's donations to organizations that oppose same-sex marriage and remarks its chief executive made this year about the issue.