NSAS to hold fast in support of Harvard protesters

Rani Gupta

Northwestern Students Against Sweatshops will fast for one day to support Harvard University students seeking a living wage for Harvard employees.

The fast began at sundown Thursday and will last until sundown today. At noon the group will hold a “fast-in” at Norris University Center, where they will gather with empty food trays.

“We were looking for ways to connect what’s going on here to the nationwide struggle,” said NSAS co-founder Pete Micek, a Medill sophomore.

NSAS has been camping at Library Plaza since Monday following a workers’ rights rally.

Members plan to stay until administrators agree to join the Worker Rights Consortium, an organization that monitors working conditions worldwide.

Brian Peters, director of University Services, will attend a WRC conference in Chicago today as an observer.

NSAS is planning a fast-breaking celebration, for which members hope to have musicians and DJs who support the NSAS campaign play, said NSAS co-founder and Weinberg junior Neel Ahuja.

The fast is a reaction to a nationwide fast that happened on Monday.

College students fasted for a day to support Harvard students who are camping out until the university pays $10.25 an hour and benefits to its 1,000 employees who currently receive less.

The Harvard students have been camping out since April 18, the longest occupation in Harvard history, Micek said.

Micek was one of the few students at NU to fast on Monday. He said the physical sacrifice reinforces the goals of the protesters.

“Each time your stomach growls, it reminds you why you are sacrificing, what greater ideals you are striving for,” Micek said.

Micek said that because NU is “kind of on the ass-end of the WRC campaign,” NSAS didn’t publicize the Monday fast.

But members said the group hopes to show “solidarity” with the Harvard students.

“We want to show support for them,” said Chris Sherman, a Weinberg sophomore.

At Harvard, about 40 students are camping out. They can leave for food but are living with no shower and only one bathroom.

About 10 NU students are sleeping at Library Plaza each night, and more students are stopping by during the day.

“It’s pretty fun, (but) little chilly at night,” Sherman said.

The group is publicizing its cause as interested students stop by to talk to the group members.

“Looking around, I see more non-NSAS people than NSAS people,” Sherman said. “It shows that it’s not just a small group of people concerned about the issue.”

Sherman also said NSAS “aggressively publicized” the rally, but the tone and pace of the campout were more “natural.”

“I don’t think sitting around sad is going to accomplish anything. That’s just going to drain you,” Sherman said. “Once the fast starts, I think it will be a more somber tone, as it should be.”