To the Editor:

Georgetown is great at doing things right. I am continually impressed at how well organized events are when a visiting dignitary comes to speak on our campus. Everything is perfectly choreographed, but there is one area in which Georgetown has consistently failed to do things rightly.

When it comes to treating those members of the Georgetown community who serve us, Georgetown has failed to live up to its own standards. I am talking about the way Georgetown treats its workers, who clean up the messes we often create.

They are the workers who ensure that our library is clean and that it is ready for us to study in the next day. They are the workers who labor in the ICC resetting desks and ensuring that our classrooms are conducive to the rigorous learning environment that Georgetown promotes. They are the workers who ensure each night that our Leavey Center is a clean place where friends can meet over a cup of coffee. They ensure that Sellinger’s tables and couches are ready for group meetings.

Rarely do students pay any attention to these people. These are the people who at times can be invisible to us: people who work while we sleep. Here is where Georgetown University has failed them, and failed us.

Unfortunately, Georgetown turns a blind eye to these service workers. Their needs as human beings are not being met.

Many of the maintenance workers on our campus have families to support and take care of, yet receive poverty wages for their contribution. While they clean our hallways and empty our trashcans, we sleep soundly in the comfort of our own ignorance of the situation our university has put them in.

Georgetown needs to instate a living wage for its workers, despite some sort of business model where productivity and profits are increased at a selfish pace that compromises our essential values of the dignity and worth of the individual. Georgetown needs a living wage because this is the right thing to do.

We cannot continue to ignore the needs of these invisible members of our community. It is easy to say that these people are not members of our community because we don’t see them or because their work is not valued.

Doing the right thing – what is good for our entire community – is not always easy. Georgetown has an outstanding record of doing things right. I hope they get it right with this too and do more than just support a living wage.

I hope that our faith is combined with the work needed to make a living wage a reality. After all, faith alone does not put food on the table for those being paid poverty wages. Actions must accompany our Catholic faith as a Jesuit university. I urge the university administration and University President John J. DeGioia to enact a living wage for the workers on this campus.

Octavio Gonzalez (COL ’06) Chairman, GUSA Assembly Feb. 9, 2005

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