Hunger Strike At UVa, Will Michael Moore Join?

Mark Perry
updated | Author's Website

On Michael Moore’s website, he features a post written by University of Virginia student and football player Joseph Williams, who is about 8 days into a hunger strike at UVa to protest the oppressive, slave and plantation-like wages of $7.25 per hour for some university employees, while his coach makes about $300,000 (he didn’t say that, I’m not sure if he’s thought of that).  Williams and his fellow hunger strikers are part of the Living Wage Campaign and they are calling on the UVa administration to pay “living wages” to all employees.  Here are the first two paragraphs:

“I am a third year studying Political and Social Thought, and a student-athlete at the University of Virginia.  Last Friday, 12 University students began a hunger strike to protest the economic and social injustices perpetrated by the UVa administration against the vast majority of the University’s service-sector employees. I joined two days later; since then, 5 more students have joined the hunger strike, which is now closing in on in its 7th day. Although the University of Virginia – Thomas Jefferson’s brainchild and the only US university designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – has the prestige and high moral traditions of other top institutions, levels of inequality exist here today that are reminiscent of Jefferson’s days as a slave-master and plantation owner – with one anonymous employee even referring to the University’s Grounds as “the plantation.” 

Our University seeks to distinguish itself as a caring community and prides itself on traditions of honor and student self-governance. However, in our “caring community,” hundreds of contract employees may make as little as $7.25/hour while six out of the top ten highest paid state employees in Virginia hold administrative positions at the University. Many employees, mostly women and African Americans, do not receive enough pay for their basic necessities to exist in Charlottesville, where the cost of living is nearly 10% higher than the national average. This extreme inequality has disturbed and disillusioned students for decades, many of whom have tried to grapple with issues of race, class, and poverty in and out of the classroom. We have taken every conventional route towards this goal, garnered wide student, faculty and community support – yet our pleas have been consistently ignored and workers are still paid unjust wages.

 Question: Couldn’t they get Michael Moore to join the  hunger strike?

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