To preface this story, I want to note that the professor described had sent out a very diplomatic e-mail to all of his students, noting that there would be no punishments for walking out, but that he would continue class regardless of how many students were left. A few minutes after the start of class on Monday, two Living Wage Coalition members burst into Andrews 101, interrupting the professor mid-lecture. They shouted to the class, reminding them of the walk out occurring in a few minutes, citing solidarity with such varied groups as the Living Wage Coalition, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the AFL-CIO. After they left to their own cheering, the entire class let out nervous giggles. The professor continued with his lecture as if nothing had happened. By 12:20 p.m. not a single student out of the two hundred person lecture had left their seat.
I don’t think this lack of participation in what was supposed to be a campus-wide walk out can in any way be attributed to a lack of sympathy from students towards the workers who clean their dorms. Instead, it seems to be an example of the hostility and confusion towards the Living Wage Coalition on our campus.
As I mentioned above, the walk out seemed to be in support of at least three different organizations, each with radically different agendas and goals. Even within the LWC there doesn’t seem to be a definite goal. After all, what is a living wage? Do they mean the cost of living in Williamsburg (where it is definitely more expensive), or in the surrounding counties and cities where most of the staff seems to live?
Secondly, the LWC does itself no good by taking such a radical and hostile position. Despite our frustrations with the College, most students seem to like College President Reveley. By personally attacking him, they further alienate themselves from the rest of the student body. When Living Wage members burst into classrooms and interrupt lectures they undermine their methods of passive, non-violent protest. Instead of painting any faculty or administrators who do not work with them as hostile, they should respect neutral opinions. A less militant, more streamlined coalition is something, in my opinion, most students would support.