A student at the University of Virginia, Joseph Williams, has been on a hunger strike for over a week now to take a stand “to protest the economic and social injustices perpetrated by the UVa administration against the vast majority of the university's service-sector employees."
Williams, along with a group of fellow classmates, is currently engaged in a hunger strike organized by the Living Wage Campaign to demand that the service employees who work on the campus receive wages that keep up with the cost of living in Charlottesville, Virginia.
While I applaud Williams in his crusade, I can't help but think that he's not going far enough to develop an actual solution to the “problem” he's protesting against. This was also the flaw of the Occupy protests; to protest just to protest is basically public whining and won't accomplish anything.
He states that, “Our University seeks to distinguish itself as a caring community and prides itself on traditions of honor and student self-governance. However, in our "caring community," hundreds of contract employees may make as little as $7.25/hour while six out of the top ten highest paid state employees in Virginia hold administrative positions at the University.”
His argument that service employees earning $7.25/hour is a social and economic injustice is weak at best. This will fall on deaf ears. No one is forced to do anything they don't want to do, and people are free to seek employment elsewhere.
The fact that six out of 10 of the school's administrators are among the highest paid employees in the state tells us that the school has recruited some of the best and brightest to lead the institution, and that they compensate them for it. I will admit that I, too, feel frustrated when I hear about someone cashing in on a big pay day. This, however, is nothing more than pure jealousy.
The fact that the administrators have the opportunity to receive this kind of compensation is what our glorious nation is built upon. What I recommend to Mr. Williams is that he ask the university to offer a discount in tuition to any of its service employees. At least then he would have a solution to the problem that he is protesting against.
Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos