Justice, Politics

Living Wage Arrests at UVA

Late last night seventeen students were arrested at UVA after a four day sit-in as part of their ongoing living wage campaign. (If you’re not sure what a living wage is, get the facts here, and do it now. We are, after all, right smack in the middle of a holiday about freedom from oppression and poverty.)
A group of UVA students (with faculty and community support) has been working on this project for years and finally decided to exert serious public pressure on the university administration. This week they began a major sit-in, demanding that the president of the University listen to their demands and negotiate to take care of his workers.
Although the AP reports that the arrests took place “without incident,” the photos look like it was a rough happening. And from all accounts it seems that the administration denied the students food for an extremely long time. (John Casteen, UVA’s president, also just seems like a bit of a jerk– I got a totally snide reply from him when I sent an email in support of the campaign. He also claims that it’s beyond the University’s legal ability to do anything about a living wage, although the students have researched the issue and are reasonably convinced he has all the legal power he needs.)
Go to the UVA Living Wage website to read about the campaign and how to help. In brief, you can:
1. Send President Casteen an email by clicking here, or call him and leave a message for him at home while he’s out of the office for break. (His number’s posted on the campaign’s website.)
2. Call or e-mail your local/national papers and let them know this is an issue that matters to you. (Folks in DC called the Washington Post and got results.)
3. If you’re in Charlottesville, go out and support the students at the Albermarle County Courthouse tomorrow at 8:30 am. You can also attend a rally tomorrow at UVA (Madison Hall, 1 PM). Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the award-winning book “Nickled and Dimed,” will speak.
4. Tell your friends about what’s going on.
Oh, and happy Easter.

One thought on “Living Wage Arrests at UVA

  1. I went to UVA, I know a lot of those involved with the Living Wage Campaign, and I know John Casteen pretty well.
    The LWC really has been working on this project for eight years. Contrary to Mr. Casteen’s assertions, none of which were new, they have done their economic and legal research. I wanted to do an action like this while I was at UVA, and the response I received from the older and wiser members of the LWC (who graduated before me) was that it had to wait until all other reasonable steps had been taken. I graduated, and now they’re finally doing it.
    Casteen, I think, really believes that he is right about the legal argument. I don’t think he’s just stonewalling or lying. The LWC probably could have done a better job of responding to his legal points by citing their own reasoning, but I don’t know exactly what they put forward in their counterproposal.
    Oh, also – Peter Ochs tried to bring matzah and haggadot to Madison Hall last Thursday, and was denied. If they hadn’t been arrested, they probably wouldn’t have let priests bring communion in either. Though I dunno if people take communion on Easter.

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