Monday, April 17, 2006

Support the students at U-Va.!

The WaPo reports today that the administration of the University of Virginia had 17 students arrested for protesting the university's low wages for campus employees.

"If anything, the arrests on the Charlottesville campus seemed to fuel the passion of the student activists, several said in telephone interviews...Today, the students said, the demonstrations will continue outside the Albemarle County Courthouse in support of the detained students, who are scheduled to go before a judge at 8:30 a.m."

Good for them. Keep the faith.

The Post quotes Abby Bellows, a fourth-year student from Fairfax County and one of several organizers of the campus's Living Wage Campaign as saying, 'The big-picture message here is that the living wage movement is only growing stronger.' said Abby Bellows, a fourth-year student from Fairfax County and one of several organizers of the campus's Living Wage Campaign. 'The university is being irresponsible in its treatment of workers . . . forcing some of them to rely on food stamps and second jobs."

The University isn't winning any friends with the arrests and the tactics they used before that. The Daily Progress reported that during last week when the students occupied Madison Hall:

"The university cut off the students' wireless access at the close of the business day on Wednesday and initially prohibited any deliveries to the students. A pile of food outside the guarded building grew, and eventually Casteen OK'd the distribution of food to the students. Top administrators said that some of the food was not given to the students because it may have spoiled after sitting outside for several hours. Students outside said their peers within had received only a bag of bagels. Several student sources claimed to have found in a nearby dumpster nonperishable food - including several boxes of granola bars and tubs of peanut butter - that had been left for the students."

The students are asking for a raise from $9.37 to $10.72. University President John T. Casteen III wrote that he believes "our schedules are fair, that they do not constitute what you have represented to the public as poverty wages." He thinks $9.37 an hour is a livable? What planet is this guy on? Even $10.72 is poverty wages.

As I wrote before about the living wage, there was a study done in 2004 that showed there were only four counties in the entire US where a minimun wage worker could afford to pay rent, never mind the rest.

A FDR said:

"Liberty requires opportunity to make a living --- a decent living according to the standard of the time, a living which gives a man not only enough to live by, but something to live for."

It's heartening to see another generation of Americans stepping up to their rendezvous with destiny to fight for the rights of their fellow citizens.


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