Students and faculty at William & Mary have walked over and around the new “Reveley’s Deadline” graffiti displays on campus. But what is the deadline? It’s the newest maneuver of the Living Wage Coalition, a conglomerate of members from several student groups. The deadline is for President Reveley to craft a budget that includes a living wage for campus workers in anticipation of the April 13 Board of Visitors meeting.
This proposal is strange on a few fronts. Granted, the average member of the Living Wage Coalition is almost certainly not an econ major, but the recession is pretty well publicized. It’s ironic that education, which is a key factor in alleviating poverty, would become more expensive if the LWC is successful. The state and college aren’t sitting on surplus funding to offer hefty salary increases this year, so the needed funds would come from increased costs of attendance.
The LWC website gives a clear impression of the configuration of the LWC. They have been supported by groups such as VOX (a pro-abortion student group) and the NAACP. Their website even features a quote about poverty from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While poverty is not new in America or Williamsburg, this group raises serious concerns. By their own calculation, the living wage of $17.25 per hour they suggest is for one parent and child. But why don’t we have an honest discussion about family planning? Single-parent households are an issue that has to be tackled to relieve some of the contributing factors to poverty and childhood education. If the jobs at William & Mary were truly beneath area standards, then people wouldn’t apply and accept the jobs. Anna Martin, VP for Administration, had little trouble hiring more housekeepers while LWC failed the notice that such success indicates that the wage offered must satisfy the labor supply in our market.
The LWC is certainly a respectable group, but they lack consideration of the College’s budget, the economy of our nation, and the other factors of poverty. We should all take a step back before protesting the BOV meeting or any other part of our administration. Salary increases should happen, but only as they’re feasible within our campus budget. Our more frivolous expenses, such as the campus “green fee” and the seemingly monthly re-potting of the Swem sundial flower bed, could make way for higher wages for the College staff. Let’s make a tribe choice to take econ classes and maintain our affordable education.