Dozens of Living Wage Campaign supporters marched in the Homecoming Parade on Friday in an effort to raise awareness for the campaign’s cause and get the attention of the administration.
More than 70 students and 20 workers marched with the group, which aims to raise wages for campus workers. Group members carried a banner depicting a scene from Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree,” which leaders said was representative of the mutual relationship between students and workers.
The campaign used the parade’s theme, “Where the Wildcats Are,” to draw attention to their message. The signs included “Oh the Places You’ll Go – on a living wage!” and “Feed the Hungry Caterpillar a Living Wage.” One student’s sign read, “Morty, will you be our Prince Charming?”
“We’re not doing it for the glamour,” said SESP junior Austin Perry, co-chair of the worker organizing committee and a DAILY cartoonist. “It’s something that seems morally right. The workers here should not have to worry about feeding their children and buying their gas.”
In past interviews with The Daily, NU President Morton Schapiro has expressed doubts about the economic feasibility of the campaign and seemed unwilling to consider adopting such a policy. Still, the administration gave subcontracted workers community benefits such as parking and WildCARD benefits last year.
Last February, about 400 students marched down Sheridan Road with the campaign and rallied in front of Schapiro’s office, a measure that may not have won Schapiro’s favor.
“As someone who has devoted his life to social justice, it bothers me a little to get some nasty e-mails about if I cared about the world from a 20-year-old who’s never done anything except protest outside my window,” Schapiro said in an interview with The Daily last winter.
Marching at homecoming was another way of showing that the group “is not going to go away,” said Lauren Manning, organizing director and a Medill sophomore.
“Homecoming is a good time to show NU how much we care about the workers,” she said.
In addition to raising signs, campaign marchers raised their voices in chant, including a rendition of the fight song that ended in “Go Northwestern, raise that wage!”
“I came because I’m not informed,” said McCormick freshman Matt Jones. “I’m just a new recruit, but it’s cool to be here.”
According to co-director Adam Yalowitz, a Weinberg senior, some of the subcontracted workers in dining halls and other campus facilities make only $8.40 per hour and do not receive health care benefits.
Gloria Valle, 26, attended the parade with her family to march in the parade. Valle has worked in the dining hall at 1835 Hinman for nine years.
“I came tonight because it’s important that students are supporting us and helping us get a fair wage,” Valle said. “We’ve never seen so much support from students.”