UPDATE Thursday: This morning, Emory spokesman David C. Payne said, “The sit-in ended around 8 p.m last evening when the students left the building. There are no planned meetings between the students and Dr. Wagner at this time although he has offered to meet with a small group of three to four representatives if they so choose.”
About two dozen Emory students protesting the treatment of subcontracted employees on the DeKalb campus are sitting outside the president’s office in an effort to confront him over what they deem the university’s indifference to the workers’ plight.
(Here is some history on the issue from the Emory Wheel and here is a piece by two students explaining their stand. And here is a response to a student about the allegations of worker mistreatment by the food service company from Emory President James Wagner.)
“These workers are not protected by the code of conduct of Emory…by an ethically engaged university. They have no avenue of redress,” said Laura Emiko Soltis, one of the students lining the hallway outside President Wagner’s office at this moment. “Emory is one of the largest employers in Atlanta and this is something that Emory needs to take seriously.”
“A group of 25-30 people are sitting in the fourth floor corridor of the University’s administration building outside his office, but is not true that they have taken over his office,” confirmed Emory spokesman David C. Payne. ” The group includes off campus visitors as well. He is out of the office today and we do not expect him back. The university’s business is continuing without interruption. We are trying to set up a meeting with a select number of student representatives for tomorrow.”
But student organizer Soltis says, “We are going to stay as long as it takes; he has been avoiding us for a year and a half.”
If President Wagner doesn’t show up today, the students plan to occupy the building overnight. But what if Emory refuses to allow them to continue their protest and orders them to leave?
“Each student is going to decide whether they are willing to be arrested,” says Soltis, adding that at least three students are willing to face arrest. (Emory is going to get back to me on what it will do about the students spending the night outside Wagner’s office in the administration building. Will post as soon as Emory responds.)
“We are on our computers. We are singing songs,” Soltis said. “We are waiting for the president to tell us if he is on the side of the workers and students and an ethically engaged university.”
Emory farms out some of its services, including food service, to private contractors, creating what the students consider a two-tier system of worker rights and status on the campus. The contractual employees do not enjoy the benefits or protections afforded Emory direct employees, they say.
The students want Emory to end its multi-million dollar dining services contract and adopt standards to ensure fair treatment of subcontracted workers on campus.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog