"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Miami University Students for Staff Organize a Staff Appreciation Day

The Miami University student organization, Students for Staff, has organized a community-wide event in honor of all Miami employees. The free dinner and reception is an effort by the group to unite the community in a show of appreciation for and solidarity with staff.

The group has been waging a 3-year long campaign for a living wage for all Miami staff members. Based on records of staff wages and benefits, data collected from the Miami Human Resources department, and research by local poverty experts and market analysis reports, the group believes that a total of 449 full-time Miami staff are potentially living in poverty, with many more possibly qualifying for government assistance.

Students for Staff has taken multiple approaches to their activism. In addition to researching local economics, national poverty standards, and living wage policies at comparable universities, the group has informed their living wage campaign with an invested care and concern for the members of their local community. The students have made efforts in the past year and half to form genuine relationships with staff members and understand their situations, a perspective they have tried to share with the administration of Miami.

According to Stephanie Lee, one of the student organizers of the campaign, this is what distinguishes the group's approach.
"Administrators and management haven't taken the time to listen to the individual voices of the staff, to understand what each staff member goes through to make their living. A lot of staff won't even talk to a boss or supervisor about it because they're afraid. As students at this university, we have felt it is our responsibility to share these stories and to seek justice for our friends and neighbors at this university who aren't being treated fairly."

At a university with one of the highest Princeton Review rankings for "lack of diversity" and "lack of class interaction," this event marks a significant moment in the efforts toward community-building at Miami. When asked about the event, Stephanie Lee had this to say: "Some might note that this has wholly been a student effort. We came up with this idea, we planned and organized everything ourselves. We want to make a point about student-staff, student-administrator, and staff-administrator relations at Miami. It should be striking to everyone that the students are the ones who initiated a reception for the staff. I think it says a lot about our campaign that we have taken the time to get to know the staff, and that there is a genuine feeling of understanding and empathy. And I think that adds a lot of validity to our argument for better wages. Even though this event is not political in tone, it certainly has political intentions. We're not going to pretend that this isn't about a living wage, because of course it is. If you respect your workers and you respect your community, you'll understand that a living wage is just one way to right the wrongs perpetrated by our administration against our community-members. If you care about your community, and you care about the people in it, one thing should follow the other. If you support the staff, you would support a living wage."

The flyers advertising the event read as follows:
Staff Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, September 26th, from 5-7 pm at the Fine Arts Pavilion on the Oxford campus of Miami University. All are invited.

For more information, please visit the student group's website, at musfs.org

-stephanie lee, Free Radical Publishing


remaerdyad said...

Were did the term Living Wage originate?

stephan!e lee said...

i dunno actually, but i know that for my group it's been symbolic of our philosophy of respect and community.

a LIVING wage. it's about life, about maintaining a basic style of living. which means it must also be flexible to changing costs of living.

it should reflect a respect for life, does that make sense? A LIVING WAGE. something you can live off of, something that lives.


remaerdyaD said...

L'see... here's me as 'Martini', ala the _Other_ Ninja Turtle (the Mutant that got away, if you will), trying some somewut synonymous terminology:

~ Above Poverty Income, blagh,
~ Worker Fair Wage, too weak
~ Minimum Acceptabile Earnings Level, too bureaucratic
~ Acceptable Bottom Rung Salary In Top Level Driven Economic System That Is Designed To Limit Capital Holdings To Shareholder Control, nah...

On top of your points, Living Wage implies that there are some people who are not able to live in the present condition due to their wage level. Rather than just reducing it to a matter of how many hours you work and what the minimum wage might be in a system that does not correct for inflation (which may not be accurate to GNP anyways?) you are, in a sense, stating that with a wage must come security.

Security is all about being able to work without worry about what lay next around the corner. If your wage is living, I would think that you would have some job security. That could only lead to security, as with health benefits for times of sickness and that sort of common thing.

You know, pie in the sky kind of stuff (-;