At a faculty meeting called to discuss the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM)'s sit-in last Friday, University President Neil L. Rudenstine announced his intention to form a new committee to reexamine the living wage issue-a process that could begin as early as this week.
The decision represents a significant concession for administrators who had initially called the issue of a living wage of $10.25 per hour for all Harvard employees "closed" when the sit-in began 13 days ago.
In their initial refusal to reopen debate on the issue, administrators cited the results of a 100-page report released last spring. The report recommended that in lieu of a mandatory wage floor the University enlarge the scope of worker benefits, including health insurance, education and access to campus facilities.
Since the release of the report, administrators have refused to budge, maintaining that their only move would be to implement the recommendations.
As a result of Rudenstine's decision to reopen the living wage issue, twelve out of the thirteen House Masters issued an open letter Friday calling on Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM) members to end the sit-in.
"We believe that students have brought this phase of their campaign to a successful completion and we urge them to come out of Massachusetts Hall in a peaceable fashion, to permit normal life to return to the premises, and to allow the orderly work of the University to resume," the letter reads.
This is significantly different in tone from the open letter the masters issued a week ago. The initial letter expressed support for the students campaigning for a living wage and urged administrators to negotiate.
But heartened by Friday's "astonishing" show of faculty support, the 37 students occupying the administrative building will continue sitting in for a living wage, PSLM member Benjamin L. McKean '02 said yesterday.
"We will be here until we feel like being here has exhausted its usefulness," said McKean, who is also a Crimson editor. "It hasn't yet."
In fact, momentum for the campaign for a living wage continues to build as the "tent city" of student supporters increases and the PSLM members occupying Mass. Hall continue to gain endorsements.
President of the AFL-CIO John Sweeney will speak outside Mass. Hall this afternoon at what is being billed as the "largest rally yet."
PSLM members received a six page long handwritten letter from the dining hall workers of Cabot and Pforzheimer house saluting the students for their "courage" and "fortitude."
And a majority of faculty members at Friday's meeting spoke in support of a living wage.
A Round of Applause
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