Last week, a truly lovely article about the current state of the Living Wage Campaign at Wooster was featured in a Viewpoint from The Wooster Voice.
I cannot express to all of you still fighting the good fight (in all realms of social justice issues on campus) how much I sincerely appreciate what you do and who you are. Before I go any further, let me be explicit about one thing: the world is better because of each and every one of you.
In this brief response to last week’s Viewpoint I want to 1) offer an addendum as to the prominent players in the movement who graduated last spring and 2) offer some advice as to how best to form and keep a movement alive in the constant rotating communities of a four year college.
First, I want to be open and honest with my concern as to why I am so often acknowledged as a principle leader in the movement. While I did play an important role, I was absolutely not a linchpin as often portrayed.
I believe that, unfortunately, my being a straight, white, male accounted for much of my public acclamation. The powers that be (Trustees) had an easier time listening to what I had to say as I mirrored many of their own experiences as members of the hegemonic group.
However, our truly fearless leader, Kristen Estabrook, put in countless hours working from every angle of the problem at hand. She researched extensively as to how best address the problem of wage inequality on our campus.
She lost more sleep than any human probably should simply because her heart was too big to hold the pain of the workers she came to know so well. We would be remiss not to include her in the history of the movement.
Additionally, one thing that the Living Wage Campaign did so well was to delegate roles and responsibilities extensively. Therefore, many people played prominent roles. It would be nearly impossible to name them all here. A fair amount of those hard workers were seniors, but so many more were passionate underclasswomen and men who continue to push for justice for our workers.
Next, I want to offer some, perhaps unexpected, advice not only to the Living Wage Campaign but to any student organizing group on campus: Be joyful. Experience joy pretty much anytime you assemble as a team.
One thing that allowed us to be a strong community was our ability to come together and laugh and smile. In the face of a nearly constant battery of frustrations and anxieties brought on by the work we do, we absolutely have to find room for real rejoicing.
Make time during meetings for games or story telling. Find separate meeting times for parties and non-social justice related activities. Create actions that are, themselves, exhibitions of resistance based in joy.
Recently, COSECHA, a group that organizes to protect and support immigrants in the United States, used a “Salsa Shutdown” in Boston to protest against various large corporations that fall under the current Migrant Boycott. It was incredibly effective and undeniably fun.
Soon enough, the love that we create in our own communities of resistance will exceed our own capacity and will spill over to the rest of the world. More people will join in the movement and it can exist across time, even after leaders graduate.
Bring people in with as many shouts of joy as there are shouts of anguish. The two live in beautiful paradox.
Again, please continue the good fight. Bring joy to your work. We need it now more than ever. Peace and power, friends.
Cullen Dolson, an alumnus of the College, is a Contributing Writer for the Voice.