As The College of Wooster community continuously works together to create the best learning environment possible, we need to remember that the ultimate goal of learning is, or should be, to create positive change.
To go to college is to invest time and money on the idea that such a form of education will be valuable to our future. We believe college will connect us to useful skills for a meaningful and impactful life.
Despite such tremendous attention toward the future, it is important to ask ourselves whether we are being truthful to our dreams for a better world today.
To that end, I will discuss what the college community has done, is doing now and what it can do in the future to strengthen the college community by supporting everyone, including our staff.
The Living Wage Campaign (LWC) is one of the student organizations that continues to create positive change in the campus community, particularly by working to increase student awareness and respect for staff, while negotiating with the administration for more equitable compensation for the vital work that our staff does each day.
Campus staff are human beings just like students, professors or anyone else in the world who want and deserve to live meaningful lives.
The fact is that some people work 40+ hours every week making our food and cleaning our bathrooms and still do not earn enough to secure a comfortable life for themselves or their families.
To ignore these critical members of our community is to be hypocritical about what higher education, and specifically liberal arts higher education, strives for.
Last year, bolstered by the engaged support of a large portion of the student body, the minimum wage at The College of Wooster was raised to $11 an hour. While this change has improved the financial situations of many staff members, we do not believe that it represents a living wage.
This year, the LWC has continued work towards establishing a living wage and understanding employees’ lives.
During the fall semester, after analyzing data of Wayne County living costs and Wooster’s family composition demographics, the LWC developed a plan for a new living wage.
This new living wage not only addresses the needs of the lowest paid workers, but also respects the dedicated service of those who have served the college for many years by accounting for wage compression.
In addition, the LWC recognizes that there are many non-financial ways in which the college community can work towards enriching each other’s lives.
The LWC seeks to bridge the gaps between students and staff through organizing regular staff appreciation events and poster campaigns.
This aims to help increase awareness of small things students can do to support staff, such as saying hello to your custodian or taking your own trash to the dumpster instead of dumping it in the hallway trash can.
I hope that we are all at this college because we want to be able to enact positive change in the world. It is imperative to realize that change can and should happen now.
As students, we can all work for positive change in the lives of those who make our college experience the best it can be.
How can you help the LWC? You can start by coming to LWC meetings at 1 p.m. on Sundays in Lowry 119 to help plan the continued negotiations with administration and to help organize events and activities that support our staff.
Pedro Oliboni, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at POliboni20@wooster.edu.