Students Stand in Solidarity with Facilities
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2012 11:05
Around 80 people showed up to the Labor Action Committee teach-in on Monday night. Students, faculty and facilities workers all crowded into a tiny Arts and Sciences classroom to listen to the Facilities workers talk about the “negotiations” that have been occurring on behalf of the health care deal with the university.
I have, up until now, refrained from expressing my thoughts on the current issue, but I think it is important that we, as students, take an active role in what goes on at our university, and that includes how our campus workers are treated.
I don’t think a lot of people realize what goes into the upkeep of our campus; I didn’t even realize it until I was hired as a student worker in Facilities. Not only do they provide materials for our events, repair our broken doors and holes in walls, and take care of the campus landscape, but they also maintain cleanliness in all of the buildings on campus as well.
It is easy for this group of people to go unnoticed and for their voices to fall upon deaf ears because they are not faculty and they are not students. So when they do raise a concern about something, I think it is fair to take their opinions into serious consideration.
The students who attended the teach-in, including myself, were given a numerical analysis of the health care situation and an explanation of what is going on. They were fairly honest in their depiction of the old versus new deal being offered. The workers admitted that some of them, depending on family status and medical conditions, would actually save money on the new plan; those that would lose money, however, would lose more than they can afford on a working class wage.
A few things became apparent during the teach-in. The first was that the facilities workers look out for each other; they collectively agreed to refuse the new health care plan because it would be detrimental to a good portion of the workers.
The last thing that was evident was that students care about the issue. Students sat on the floor to listen to what the workers had to say. It was refreshing to see so many people come together and support the people that are often forgotten.
It can be easy to be philanthropic towards people in faraway countries suffering from unimaginable horrors, but let’s not forget about the people in our own backyards (or on our own campus, for that matter) who don’t ask for very much, but still need someone to look out for them.
One student at the end of the presentation raised his hand to comment on how the Jesuit-based administration could be so inflexible in their dealings with the workers — people right here at home who are facing hardship — while still clinging to the idea of Jesuit values and social justice. That is precisely my question. I hope the administration will step back from the situation and find ways to really compromise lest matters go south.
Feliz Moreno is a sophomore English major.