The College of William and Mary claims a dedication to service, yet poverty disrupts the everyday lives of many members of our Tribe community. The College shows a pioneering commitment to academics and service, yet we ignore the injustices that people on our campus face on a daily basis. While it is true that our workers are paid market wages, the widespread reality of poverty does not justify its existence. We have a responsibility to value all members of our community, including the workers who keep our buildings and grounds beautiful. Paying our workers poverty wages disrupts the fabric of our community.
I have great respect for the administration and its efforts to maintain the quality of education for students. However, I cannot understand the failure to address poverty that is present in our community. When faced with limited money and great need, we should prioritize the people who are struggling to survive. If we are truly committed to service, we need to focus on serving the people in our own community. The Living Wage Coalition has sought to make visible the needs of the most undervalued members of our community.
While a one-day peaceful protest may be seen as disruptive, workers’ lives are disrupted every day as they struggle to survive on poverty-level wages. A living wage in the Hampton Area for a one parent, one child household is calculated between $17 to $19. Many people who have worked at the College for over 20 years are making under $11 an hour. As long as members of our Tribe community are forced to make difficult decisions about whether to put food on the table, pay the bills, or go to the doctor, we must take a stand against injustice and continue to fight for living wages for all our workers.