“Don’t cry over spilled milk! One of our hardworking custodians will clean it up,” read one of the signs some students saw posted all around campus on Feb. 20. The posters are another manifestation of the ongoing campaign of the Students and Workers United club to inform students of the working conditions of custodians on campus.
Senior Sean Tomlinson, an active member of SWU, said that the posters were taken down too quickly to have an effect on students. However faculty did notice them, “I had numerous conversations with them [the faculty] about why I had posted them [the posters], but not necessarily about the content they [the posters] covered,” explained Tomlinson.
The postings were a week after the Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day protest at the Stag Statue for workers’ rights. Students held up signs and stood atop the statue while asking students walking by to sign a petition regarding the treatment of custodians to be delivered to President Mark Nemec.
One of the protest organizers Renee Babin ‘21, explained the significance of the protest on the holiday. “We thought Valentine’s Day would be a good day to have the demonstration because, while it is great to enjoy the holiday and celebrate with loved ones,” said Babin, “it is also important to realize that many people don’t have the privilege of doing so because they are stuck at work all day –– often under harmful working conditions –– like our custodians here on campus.”
Tomlinson was hopeful working conditions would improve despite years of poor working conditions. “I have noticed that it becomes more difficult, though not impossible, for blatant workers’ rights violations to occur when the students are actively concerned about their custodians’ well-being,” said Tomlinson.
“Now we just need everyone who signed the petitions to President Nemec to spread the word and carry that passion forward to demand action,” said one student who attended the protest Teresa Sauer ‘20.