Living Wage Advocates May Target Harvard Corp. in Future Protests
Participants in the living wage campaign of the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM) concluded yesterday that they will only win higher wages for Harvard employees by aggressively lobbying the Harvard Corporation and educating the student body.
Their dinner discussion last night centered on what speakers called the "undemocratic" practices of the seven-member Corporation, the University's highest governing body.
Students said the meeting was intended as a brainstorming session to reinvigorate the living wage campaign, which is going into its third year. The discussion was open to all students.
One disgruntled student said that when she asked University Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67 where the next Corporation meeting would be held, he said, "If I gave you that information that would be the last meeting I'd have with the Corporation."
"Harvard should be an educational community, not a corporation," said Benjamin L. McKean '02, a member of PSLM.
The meeting focused on the Corporation because group members said the Corporation is responsible for effectively reducing the wages of Harvard janitors, guards and kitchen workers by deciding to contract them from other companies instead of hiring them directly.
"Some of the SSI workers are just two or three years older than we are," and still attending college, said PLSM member Claudia A. Sitgraves '02.
Sitgraves said combating students' apathy about the living wage campaign and educating them about the Corporation is the first step in their efforts.
It would raise awareness "if everyone woke up [one morning] with a pamphlet about what the Corporation is with their Crimson," said Brent D. Zettel '01, a member of PSLM.
Albert H. Cho '02, another participant, said he thought group members should put up flyers saying, "Welcome to Disney Harvard," showing students what he called the corporate side of Harvard.
But Iris Z. Ahronowitz '03 said that getting the word out would not be easy.
"The minute a living wage thing goes up [on the kiosks] it disappears," Ahronowitz said.
Students also offered more unconventional suggestions. Zettel proposed holding protests on the lawns of Corporation members' homes.
One student said she had already started tracking down the addresses of Corporation members.
Other ideas included getting support from faculty and other student organizations, targeting alumni and publishing an editorial in Perspective, a liberal weekly.