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The Harvard Living Wage Campaign
April 26, 2001 8:22 PM   Subscribe

The Harvard Living Wage Campaign has been sitting in blocking the administration building for 8 days, 8 hours, and 58 minutes. They've been nytimesed and you'd think the college would have to listen to Ben Affleck (and Ted Kennedey and 200 faculty and...).
posted by benjamin (24 comments total)

 
Oh, please. No one forced these people to take the jobs they did. If they don't feel that they are earning a "living wage" (whatever that is supposed to mean), then they are free to seek other employment.
posted by davidmsc at 8:29 PM on April 26, 2001


Time to raise the tuition.
posted by thirteen at 8:35 PM on April 26, 2001


That's annoying. Why can't they be more civil. They have to block other people's workplace? They're just being a nuiscance. I hope they all get fired so they can find their "living wage" somewhere else.
posted by Witold at 8:46 PM on April 26, 2001


Where would they be able to find jobs that pay more? These workers did not volunteer to accept a low wage in exchange for a job they love. They accept a low wage because if they don't they won't be able to feed their families. A university with billions in endowment can afford this type of policy. If the administration was smart, it could use an implementation of a living wage as incredible example of how what is taught in it's classrooms is being put into practice in it's hallways and dining halls.
posted by starcrm at 8:55 PM on April 26, 2001


There is no reason to listen to Ben Affleck, Hollywood Hypocrite.
posted by aaron at 9:03 PM on April 26, 2001


The one time you beat me to something I was going to post, aaron. Not that I know what this has to do with him, but the B.A. info was timely all the same. Or maybe it's just that I despise seeing that wildly pretentious Mr. Ripley movie every other time I turn the TV.
posted by raysmj at 9:09 PM on April 26, 2001


No, that was Matt Dammon, but I get them all confused. Whoever.
posted by raysmj at 9:16 PM on April 26, 2001


These workers did not volunteer to accept a low wage in exchange for a job they love.

Excuse me, but they DID volunteer for the jobs that they now hold - nobody forced them to walk to the administration building, fill out forms, be interviewed, and show up for work day after day. They CHOOSE to do these things. They can also choose to seek other employment.

Where would they be able to find jobs that pay more? Oh, I don't know...the same place that everybody else finds jobs - classified ads, pounding the pavement, "networking" with friends and acquaintances, job listings & job banks, employment agencies. The whole idea of taking a job and then staging a sit-in until you get whatever you want is completely immoral. Sounds like the tactics of a three-year old child, not a grown adult. Grown-ups should take responsibility to make changes in their life, not whine and throw temper tantrums because they feel that "life isn't fair."
posted by davidmsc at 9:27 PM on April 26, 2001


davidmsc -- these aren't the workers holding the jobs doing the sit-in, it's students at the university. Which, you know, I'm sure logical holes could be blown through. Must say I'm on their (the students') side, though.
posted by logovisual at 9:32 PM on April 26, 2001


Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are practically joined at the hip. Not surprising you got them mixed up.

(That link's going to die soon, unfortunately. TSG always uses the same URL for its latest story, and then doesn't make it available in their archives until the next new article is posted. Makes it impossible to post a permanent link to their material during the time period people want to link it. Very bad design flaw.)
posted by aaron at 9:41 PM on April 26, 2001


These kids are at Harvard, couldn't they just siphon a little from their trust funds to make up the difference?
posted by owillis at 9:44 PM on April 26, 2001


"The whole idea of taking a job and then staging a sit-in until you get whatever you want is completely immoral. Sounds like the tactics of a three-year old child, not a grown adult."
Yes, David, the labor movement is just an evil, evil thing. Because, of course, we live in a world with unlimited resources, and high paying jobs are available to everyone. Everybody can easily get a job that pays them enough to live at a reasonable standard for our nation. And candy canes grow on trees, and people are always nice to each other, and you, too, can be President one day.
Who sounds like the child, again?
posted by Doug at 10:13 PM on April 26, 2001


Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are practically joined at the hip.

i smell a freak sandwich!
posted by elle at 10:27 PM on April 26, 2001


I was just on campus this weekend and walked by the protest. My friend (a Harvard grad student) said that what was interesting to him is that (more or less) the actual workers were not at all involved in the protest. In other words, this isn't about the oppressed workers exercisizing their right to protest, which certainly has it's place in the world. Instead, it is bored, guilty, upper-class students trying to work off their guilt by picking up on a cause that no one (not even the workers themselves) finds particularly pressing. There is definitely a place for social protest in the world, and we need more of it. However, the trendiness of these types of protests among a certain age and class of members of the elite who have very little clue about what they are actually protesting about is pretty pathetic- if the people involved actually understood the issues better, and were in it for reasons other than media coverage, they might get better results.
posted by louie at 10:43 PM on April 26, 2001


If you check out the website you will see that the students protesting do have a very good idea of what they are talking about and working for. They understand the issues quite well. The media coverage they are looking for is for their issue, not themselves. Perhaps the reason that the workers themselves aren't the ones protesting is that they know that the university won't listen to them. If the students protest, the university has to listen. It is their parents that are paying to send them there, and it will be the students who will be donating money to the university after they graduate. At least these students are using their idealism to try to bring about change that has a real goal and purpose to improve a problem they see in society. They are not asking for better cafeteria food for themselves, or something else petty that college students have been known to whine about. They are trying to do something to help others.

As far as the workers being there voluntarily and being able to find a better paying job, the networking that most of us are likely to use to find a job will, in most cases, not yield the same results for them. When you family and friends all hold the same types of jobs as you, low paying service sector jobs, it is difficult to network your way into a higher paying position. If these workers could find a better paying job, my guess is that they would have taken it by now.

I don't think there is anything pathetic about this protest. With all the complaints circulating about the apathy of students today, this is something refreshing. At least they are doing something about what they believe in and asking the university to stand behind what it is teaching.
posted by starcrm at 10:55 PM on April 26, 2001


I went to a private school, paying nearly $30,000 per year in tuition. The average salary for profs and administrators was around $100,000. Much of my money went towards a new football stadium, which wouldn't have been my choice. I think when students spend that much money, they have a right to have a voice in how some of it is used. I think it's great they're supporting helping these poor folks get $10 an hour or whatever it is - especially in such an expensive city. It's not so easy for everyone to just go and find a new job. The minimum wage is a disgrace, no one can live on that. I feel the issue is people getting paid what they're worth, and a job - any job - should at least pay enough for someone to live on. Taking a stance like this on a grass-roots level where you can make a difference in at least your own institution's pay scale is a way to make things more fair, rather than just saying people should jump into the "open market."
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:06 AM on April 27, 2001


I went to a private school, paying nearly $30,000 per year in tuition. The average salary for profs and administrators was around $100,000. Much of my money went towards a new football stadium, which wouldn't have been my choice.


AFAIK, don't most athletic departments at universities generate revenues separately from the universities themselves and get all of their money from private donations and revenues generated from within the department?
posted by gyc at 2:23 AM on April 27, 2001


These kids are at Harvard, couldn't they just siphon a little from their trust funds to make up the difference?

owillis: stereotypes are FUN!
posted by jpoulos at 6:20 AM on April 27, 2001


Having lived in and around Boston for several years, all I can think of now is, "Wow, isn't the Internet an entertaining place?" These kids are doing what generations who've gone before them have done - silly, undergraduate antics that will, in the end, change nothing that the University doesn't already want want to change - but now they're being watched by people outside the Yard. Don't forget to bear in mind as you tune into to view whatever their latest escapades are that we're talking about twenty kids here - out of thousands. Believe me, Harvard's not the least bit interested in them nor does the University have any "fears" for their "reputation." (If you're interested in seeing for yourself that the University has already done everything they can reasonably be expected to do, read President Rudinstine's memo.)
posted by m.polo at 6:28 AM on April 27, 2001


AFAIK, don't most athletic departments at universities generate revenues separately from the universities themselves and get all of their money from private donations and revenues generated from within the department?

Only in Division I, gyc. Most smaller schools don't get much revenue from their athletic departments. (I don't know how Harvard, which is D-I but doesn't have athletic scholarships, is set up.)
posted by werty at 6:44 AM on April 27, 2001


I read somewhere that if the minimum wage had kept abreast of inflation, it would now be something over $10.00 per hour. These days even a janitor deserves that. I find it disgusting that a person cannot even support themselves, let alone any dependents on such a low wage. Guess we need to redefine "minimum." Come one, davidmsc, show some sympathy for those on the bottom.
posted by SteveS at 8:42 AM on April 27, 2001


AFAIK, don't most athletic departments at universities generate revenues separately from the universities themselves and get all of their money from private donations and revenues generated from within the department?

I'm not sure - I went to Southern Methodist which I guess is a "mid-size" school. The games aren't televised or anything like that, and there is no shortage of tickets. I had heard a rumour tuition subsidized the athletic programs, but never really looked into it. Mainly I meant it as an example that universities don't always spend funds on things the students think are appropriate unless the students speak up.
posted by sixdifferentways at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2001


people aren't just watching from afar. it isn't just 20 students... there are hundreds of protestors outside the building. There are at least 12,000 signatures on their petition and hundred of organizations (churches, etc.) in Boston that have given support. There are thousands of supporters connected by email and internet at other Colleges who have been calling or emailing their support. Speaking for the one I know personally, at least 200 students from Swarthmore have called the Harvard administrators' phone lines to support the students. Harvard square is filled with tents with people that can't afford to do a 9 day sit-in, but who can similarly protest. The Mayor supports the students.

This is not a case of college antics as usual.
posted by benjamin at 10:16 PM on April 27, 2001


I walk by the "protests" and the "tent city" everyday as I catch the "T" to work. I have no idea what the point is after a period of time since many of the students go on with what is primarily, IMHO, an ordinary day. To really get some results try having EVERY student out of class for some time and maybe the points will be taken seriously by ALL. Until then just tell the higher officials in the State and Federal governments to not tax so much, so these poorly paid individuals can keep some of the hard earned money.
posted by brent at 3:53 PM on April 30, 2001


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