Last week, the College of William and Mary Board of Visitors made a small yet important move toward improving salaries on campus. During their fall meetings, the BOV proposed to increase faculty pay by 5 percent and to increase staff pay by 4 percent, pending approval of the six-year plan by the state government. The move is by no means official and has no real secure funding — it is simply an item on the College’s wish list for the state — but it is significant because it signals a move in the right direction by the College.
This decision, which could potentially benefit the faculty and staff at the College, was announced quietly. We understand that nothing is set in stone, but we are surprised that the College isn’t treating this with more fanfare. While this could represent a victory for the College, it should not be considered a victory for the tactics of Living Wage Coalition.
All along, the students and the administration of the College have been on the employees’ side. However, the students and the administration have not been on the side of the LWC and their policy-breaking, alienating tactics. Their goals have always garnered support; problems arise when considering the methods they use to achieve these goals. With this quiet decision, the LWC has been presented a rare gift: success. Although we are sure there are other factors that have gone into the BOV’s decision, there is no denying that the LWC has brought the subject to the center of campus discussion and directly to the BOV. Because of the LWC’s toxic relationship with the BOV, the announcement almost goes unnoticed, and more students are hearing about the BOV member arrested for public intoxication near the delis than the wage increases.
We hope that this move by the BOV is not misconstructed as the College caving to LWC tactics, because it is not. For one, will this type of behavior — trespassing, yelling at College President Taylor Reveley, and getting arrested — set a precedent at this school? We don’t want more unchecked radicalism. Some tactics are just plain foolish and could result in serious violations of the student code of conduct. The LWC has had members charged with conduct violations already this year: This should not become the norm for campus campaigns.
This announcement raises many questions. Will this change the LWC’s stance at all? Potentially, its goal has been reached.Will the LWC silently fade into the background of campus life, or will the organization find a new goal? And finally, will the LWC decide that this isn’t enough and continue to use alienating tactics toward campus administration and students?
This one movement could have brought the campus together to find solutions to budget problems pertaining to people who are vital in the school’s function. Instead, the LWC turned the cause into a negative one, which has prevented the school from openly acknowledging a decision we all should be celebrating.
We are happy the BOV is prioritizing pay increases, but we would like to see more pride from the College regarding this decision. Instead of feeling happy that this happened, there is an overwhelming sense of uneasiness and too many misgivings.