The Living Wage Coalition’s Friday rally ended abruptly last week.

The participating students, staff and faculty attempted to exercise our rights to freedom of speech, assembly and redress of grievances under the apparently false assumption that we could enter campus buildings. But we were told groups cannot enter buildings. Neither, apparently, may individuals who have “identified [themselves] as members of a group.” A DPS officer physically blocked the entrance to Healy and engaged in a shoving and shouting altercation in order to block us, at all costs, from peacefully entering.

Our intent was to present the coalition’s 10-point living wage demands to University President John J. DeGioia. I, an individual who attempted to enter the building by myself with our demands in hand, was physically pushed back from the door several times and instructed to stay outside “as a member of the group.”

The university must explain itself and answer the demands of a quickly growing campus coalition for a living wage. Participants of the Living Wage Coalition and all at the rally deserve a public apology from DPS.

The rally’s voices included those of our community’s workers, professors, students and student leaders as they expressed the absolute urgency of campus workers’ poverty wages. Georgetown must remedy the injustice of forcing its workers into the very real poverty of earning less than $18,000 a year, and it cannot to continue lock the problem out of Healy and its halls by posting an officer at the door.

While the coalition deserves an apology for this single infringement on our rights of expression, it is instead the workers who deserve an honest, straightforward explanation for why, exactly, the university refuses to pay them enough to survive.


JAN. 31, 2005

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