2009-02-13

Protest in the air

Yesterday afternoon (Thursday) there was protest in the air on North Campus. I walked towards the parking deck on Jackson Street and heard chanting and drum beats over near the President’s office. So I walked on towards the Hubert Bond Owens memorial fountain right outside Old College. The protestors were around the building (forever the Art Museum to me...) which houses the President’s office and other senior administration people. The chants were difficult to make out at first but as I listened I realized the protest had to do with a living wage protest. Today’s Red and Black has a front page article on it if you’d care to read about it. I don’t know if the laughable ABH (Online Athens) webpage/newspaper bothered to cover it or not.

I stood for a moment, listening to the chants, the drum beats, the flute, taking in the whole experience. I have been observing protests on this campus since my teen years. Its part of what makes a college town unique. I feel energized by the protests most of the time. Its nice to see students and others who are concerned and engaged enough to organize and stage a peaceful protest. 

On my drive home, I pondered the goal of the protest. Given the current national and state economies after 8 years of catastrophic presidential rule, just where is the money for a Livable Wage supposed to come from? Damn, right now folks ought to be more concerned with salary continuity than anything else. I suppose its the right and expectation that college students be idealistic. But in the current economy, I think realistic would be a better attribute to develop.

4 comments:

jmSnowden said...

Of course, right after the protest the students got in their landrovers and the faculty in their prius' and drove to a coffee shop for a 4$ cup of coffee.

Realistic indeed.

VFBoynton said...

I attended the UGA Living Wage protest as a supporter of the cause and the mother of one of the leaders of the protest (student). This is a committed and caring group of students and faculty who work on this campaign year round. Yes, this is a difficult economic environment, but it does not negate the fact that full time UGA food service and janitorial workers are being paid poverty level wages and that UGA's University Council supports the pay raises and has for several years. Even President Michael Adams says he supports the raises. By the way, jmSnowden, President Adams was driven off in his big black SUV, while I believe many of the protesters walked downtown for a few cheap beers (no landrovers or $4 cups of coffee in sight!)

jmSnowden said...

Food service and janitorial workers get paid low wages because other jobs in Athens pay low wages. If all that activist energy were directed towards job creation, sheer competition would raise wages. Mandating narrow wage increases locally will force UGA to outsource the jobs to private companies (if implemented just at UGA) or drive small businesses out of business or across county lines (if implemented just in Clarke).

Nobody is doubting the good intention, but the tactics are poorly thought-out misdirected and, whether you think so or not, ill timed.

AthensWriter said...

I heard that President Adams secretary walked outside and calmly asked "can you quiet down, president Adams has a meeting" haha. True Story.