Open Letter to The Living Wage Coalition

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April 18, 2011

10:00 PM

You know, this never really clicked for me before about a week ago, but I think the truth [about] why so many students seem uncomfortable with the Living Wage Coalition is not that they necessarily disagree with you, or even that they feel the need to protest, but are actually put off by the enjoyment most of the LWC seems to take in protesting.

You’re saying that the poverty line is set absurdly low; I agree. You’re saying that workers perform a thankless job for little money, I agree. You’re saying it’s hard to raise a family on that wage, and that as a responsible community we should do something about it, and that as a prestigious college we have an even greater responsibility to set an example. I agree with all of that. But those are sad things. Those are awful things.

I’ve seen LWC protests — not all of them, not most of them, but a few — and there, as in the video recently on The Flat Hat front page and as described in previous letters to the editor where you burst into a class and cheer yourselves out, there’s this perverse sense of joy among some of the students. A feeling of “Look at me, I’m fighting for the poor!” that frankly repulses most people. It’s like when at the end of your chanting about how some workers are unable to feed their families you bellow out an exuberant “Woooooo!”
I’m not saying everyone in your organization is like that, I’m 100 percent sure they’re not, but there is a very real element of that in much of what the LWC seems to do.

You want to help the workers here at the College [of] William and Mary, and I respect that, you just shouldn’t be so self-congratulatory about it. A protest shouldn’t be a party.

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