Student Activism on Behalf of Campus Workers

Students at elite institutions sometimes recognize economic inequality ahead of the universities’ administrations, especially when the universities themselves are exploiting their own workers.

Here are the opening paragraphs from a news report from about such a situation at Duke University:

“Students who have been occupying a building on the Duke University campus since April 1 voluntarily ended their sit-in Friday afternoon.

“Nine students had been camping outside Duke University President Richard Brodhead’s office in the Allen Building, which is the school’s main administrative building. The building has remained closed since the sit-in began, with limited access for faculty and staff.

“The protesters, who call themselves Duke Students and Workers in Solidarity, demanded the firing of three administrators, including one accused of uttering a racial slur against a black parking attendant two years ago, as well as a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers.

“’Though we have disagreed about the specifics of their demands and their choice of means, I respect their underlying passion for making Duke and the world a better place,’ said Brodhead in a statement. ‘The university renews its commitments toward advancing the causes of fairness and inclusion across this community, including for workers. I now look forward to our coming together in this important cause.’

“On Wednesday, Brodhead said Duke would take several steps to address student concerns, including engaging and independent expert to review employee complaint procedures, reviewing the guidelines for contractors and their employees, and beginning a process to raise Duke’s minimum wage of $12 an hour.

“Student protesters had issued a statement saying the concessions didn’t ‘provide sufficient evidence of a concrete commitment by the university.’

“Friday afternoon, the students stated they would continue fighting for their demands but would do so from outside the building. . . .”



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