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LWC continues with letter writing campaign

Ellie Kahn

Contributing Writer

Throughout this academic year, the Living Wage Campaign (LWC), a student group advocating for the needs of staff at the College, has been engaging in a letter-writing campaign in which students, parents and alumni connected to Wooster have been encouraged to write to key figures in the administration, emphasizing the need for a living wage for campus staff members. 

The initiation of the campaign directly followed the LWC’s demonstration this past fall, where students were present as Trustees arrived for a Board meeting in the Governance Room. Over 200 students protested at this meeting, sharing signs with anonymous quotes and stories from Wooster staff members detailing why a living wage of at least $14.08 is necessary for the campus community to be an ethical one, compared to the current minimum of $11.00. LWC seeks increased wages for  salaried and hourly workers at the College. 

As members of LWC shared, “it is deeply hypocritical that we, as a College, criticize the injustices we see in other institutions, in our nation and in our world, yet are so willing to tolerate the inequities and injustices in our own campus community when it serves our own economic ends and purposes. We hold that the College cannot meet its goals in a global context if it consistently fails to do so within our very own institution. We believe instituting a living wage is the first step toward a more ethical campus.”

Yet while Trustees interacted with student protesters and acknowledged the importance of the issues raised, little change has been enacted since the demonstration on Oct. 26. According to members of LWC, “the Board wrote us a formal letter indicating that the ultimate decision lies with the President of the College concerning these matters, and that we need her full commitment before the Board will move forward with this issue.” 

Thus the letter-writing campaign began, an effective and common tactic for groups advocating issues pertaining to social justice. The decision to engage in the campaign was a collective one, as LWC is comprised of over 200 students. Conceptualized as “a reminder to the Board and President Bolton that student demand for a living wage is not a one-time occurrence but a continued movement,” the campaign is a formal method of expressing continued pressure. 

As members of LWC detail, “We seek to impel President Bolton that this issue is important on campus through various means but also through reminding her daily of the students who demand justice on this campus in her mailbox, and sending copies to the Board to continue to remind them that they are also responsible for making the important and necessary changes happen on this campus.”

The members of the LWC are determined to glean a response from the Trustees. Though in the fall they provided little support for their movement, even after being presented with the 1300 signatures that the LWC had collected in support of a living wage for staff. “The letter writing campaign began directly after the fall demonstration at the Board of Trustees general meeting. It continues this semester, and will continue until we see meaningful change in the Board and Cabinet’s perceptions and action on this issue,” said the LWC. 

Letters have been sent to the President of the College Sarah Bolton, Board of Trustees and Cabinet, and will continue to be written until the campus sees “meaningful change in the Board and Cabinet’s perceptions and action” regarding a living wage for staff members. Students passionate about the mission and goals of the LWC are encouraged to participate by writing a letter to those in the administration, as this campaign is not reserved just for those who are official members of LWC, but is open to any individual connected to campus with thoughts to share with the trustees and administrators about the treatment of the staff at The College of Wooster. The LWC says, “The letter writing campaign is an opportunity for anyone connected to the college community to write the President, members of the Cabinet and the Board of Trustees about the need for a living wage on campus. We have received letters from students, parents and alumni of the College.”

While the letter-writing campaign highlights the treatment of Wooster workers in financial terms, it is crucial for students to also remember the second foundational pillar of LWC, which is staff respect. As members of LWC noted, the group “encourage[s] students to get to know your staff and respect their work. Staff respect is the sum of small actions we all can take to make our College a more dignified work environment. Learn your staff members’ names. Say ‘hello,’ ‘good morning’ and ‘thank you.’ Be careful not to spill when scooping mac & cheese (this goes further than you think). There are opportunities everywhere to treat staff with respect, and we encourage all students to look for and use these opportunities.”

(Photo by Saeed Husain)

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