Helppie-Schmieder: A living wage and the case for awareness

Brenna Helppie-Schmieder


Living wage this, living wage that. It seems like the Living Wage Campaign is all I’ve been hearing on campus these days. I’m not really sure what a living wage is, but it sounds like some sort of compensation that people receive for living. And if that’s the case, then count me in!

Look, what’s important here isn’t this so-called “living wage.” What’s important is raising awareness about the living wage.

Raising awareness is the single most important activity on college campuses. It is the fundamental precursor for change (also important). And of both the things I like about Northwestern, the fact that NU kids love to raise awareness is my favorite.Some examples:

FMO, which stands for Four Members Only, raises awareness about their four members. College Feminists raise awareness about women’s issues (don’t ask). College Democrats raise awareness about College Democrat events. College Republicans raise awareness about College Democrats. Associated Student Government raises awareness about nothing. Cru, a campus Christian group, raises awareness about our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

Speaking of Cru, one night during my freshman year, I was sitting in my dorm room in Bobb, drunk and alone, when I heard a knock. I put on some pants and opened my door, only to be greeted by two Cru kids. They asked me if I knew Jesus Christ. I told them I had heard of the guy. They asked me if I was interested in being saved.

“Saved from what?” I asked. “Saved from having to listen to you talk about Jesus for the next hour?”

I slammed the door.

Look, I love Jesus as much as the next guy. But the point is, Cru went about raising awareness all wrong. First rule of awareness: Don’t blindside me with Jesus talk while I’m downing a 40.

Some of you may be thinking awareness only achieves more awareness. But it can do more than that. It fights diseases (breast cancer), keeps the government in check (Tea Parties) and introduces people to Haiti (Haiti).

The best part about students raising awareness at the campus level is they are only steps away from raising awareness on a national level-like Andrew Joseph Stack, that guy who just flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas. I’m not going to pretend I’d ever heard of the IRS before.

I bet Andrew Stack would have made a good campus speaker. He could have given a good talk on awareness … if he were still alive. I guess he won’t be getting that living wage.

Weinberg junior Brenna Helppie-Schmieder can be reached at [email protected]