Five students were arrested after the Living Wage Coalition staged a sit-in at the Brafferton Wednesday, in an attempt to gain what they deem to be living wages for College of William and Mary workers. The sit-in began at 9:00 a.m., and ended at approximately 1:00 a.m. the following morning.
“One of the biggest violations was disruption of business charges, and for me that is a really insulting violation to receive,” LWC member KB Brower ’11 said. “A disruption, I think, working at a poverty wage is a disruption in your every single day life.”
At approximately 12:50 a.m., Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D ’06 addressed the five members of the LWC that remained inside the building. According to a press release, Ambler read a statement aloud to the students.
“Let me first say that the leadership of the College certainly understands that the issue of workers’ wages is very important,” Ambler said. “We also appreciate the passion you have for the issue and we support the rights of members of our community to express their views.”
The administration then gave the LWC members 10 minutes to vacate the Brafferton.
“As I told you Wednesday afternoon, your presence here is disrupting the business of the College, which is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.” Ambler said. “You no longer have permission to remain in the Brafferton. You have 10 minutes in which to take your possessions and leave the building. If you remain in the Brafferton after 10 minutes, this will become a police matter. You will be arrested for trespassing, and this will become a matter for the legal system.”
After 10 minutes, the students had not left, and were cited for trespassing and issued a summons by William and Mary Police to appear in court.
“Arresting students is never the desired outcome — one we have attempted to avoid the entire day,” Ambler said. “If you do not leave, you will give us no other choice, because it is time for this disruption to come to an end.”
The LWC members were then escorted outside by police, but not taken into custody.
“I was really surprised that the administration would rather arrest five students than increase wages for our lowest paid workers,” LWC member Maggie Russolello ’12 said. “Reveley keeps telling us that there is no room in the budget, and that we don’t have enough support, and we have consistently proved these arguments wrong time and time again.”
Despite the outcome, the LWC did not appear deterred.
“Until you are ready to commit to including living wages in the budget, these conversations just keep going round and round in circles,” Russolello said. “We are going to keep working at this until they are ready to change their mind.”
College President Taylor Reveley then released a statement regarding the events.
“It is often admirable to care intensely about matters of policy and to be a strong advocate for a particular point of view,” Reveley said. “It is not admirable, however, to insist that your point of view is the only reasonable one and that, until you get your way, you will disrupt the work of the university. Occupying other people’s offices until you get your way is, of course, incompatible with the way we live together at William & Mary. This tears the fabric and can not be accepted.”
Flat Hat News Editor Vanessa Remmers contributed to this report.