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Appleton, WI: SDS rallies for $15 an hour for students on campus

By staff |
November 2, 2021
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Terrence Freeman, co-founder and chair of Appleton SDS, speaks at a rally for st
Terrence Freeman, co-founder and chair of Appleton SDS, speaks at a rally for student workers. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Appleton, WI - The Appleton Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Sunrise Fox Valley are continuing the “Fight for $15'' at Lawrence University. This campaign seeks to increase the on-campus student worker minimum wage to $15 per hour. At the moment, the average student worker is undercompensated with a meagre $7.25 wage, which is unable to meet the rising costs of tuition and other exorbitant living expenses.

Through consistent agitation and numerous flyer drives, Appleton SDS has been able to gain the support of hundreds of student workers and other sympathetic allies. With the assistance of Sunrise Fox Valley, Appleton SDS hosted an open rally in front of Warch Campus center on October 25. There was a significant turnout of dozens of students over the course of the event. However, zero administrators made an appearance.

The rally was kicked off by a rousing speech given by Terrence Freeman, the co-founder and chair of Appleton SDS. Freeman highlighted the indispensability of student labor on campus.

“We need to recognize that Lawrence University cannot function without student labor power. That is an undeniable fact. What would happen if students didn’t work in the Viking Room, or the library, or the wellness center? I’ll tell you what would happen: Lawrence University would sink under its own weight because we’re the ones who keep this damn institution afloat,” Freeman said.

Next, Anders Hanhan, a leading member of Sunrise Fox Valley, decried the low wages provided by Lawrence University, noting that they have caused many student workers to quit their jobs. After him, Diego Léon and Jonnie Urban, two members of Appleton SDS, discussed how they have been personally exploited as student workers. Urban, a worker at the on-campus bar, asserted that increasing the minimum wage would greatly benefit all student workers, especially those who are either low-income or disabled.

Freeman condemned the wealth disparity at Lawrence University, noting that the annual salary of the 12 highest earners at the institution is nearly double that of all student workers on campus.

“The annual earnings for student workers is a total of $1.6 million. However, the 12 highest earning administrators at Lawrence make a combined $2.5 million annually. This sounds like wealth redistribution needs to happen,” Freeman said.

As the rally came to its conclusion, Freeman laid out the four core demands of the Fight for $15 campaign.

“We demand that the Lawrence administration agrees to increase the wage to $15 for all students employed by the university by the 2023-2024 academic year. We demand that the student worker wage increases every year relative to the annual increase in the cost of tuition. We demand that any increase in the student worker wage does not result in a reduction of the funds directed toward anything that directly benefits the student body. We demand that all of Lawrence University’s budget be made easily accessible to the public on the Lawrence website. This should include individual salaries, the allocation of funds, and our university donors and trustees,” Freeman stated.

Appleton SDS will be hosting more rallies and flyer drives for the Fight for $15. Right now, they are dealing directly with the Lawrence administration and student government to begin to get the demands of their campaign recognized and met.

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