S.L.A.P. not given a fair shake

“FUCK THE PIG STATE,” reads one of the signs in last week’s cover photos about the Student Labor Action Project’s (SLAP) Student Labor Summit.I do not believe that this photo adequately represents the discourse of the conference or SLAP’s continued struggle for livable wages and workers rights at UVM.What’s more, the image presented by The Cynic panders to traditionally sensationalist media portrayals of activists and protests that play up the actions and slogans of some at the expense of the substance of the whole organization.A more representative portrayal of SLAP and its conference would have explained that students, teachers, organizers and others from across the state came together to discuss livable wages, workers rights and sweat-free clothing, including a panel chaired by Senator Bernie Sanders and workers from around the state.A more representative portrayal of SLAP would have contextualized the conference as part of an almost four year struggle for livable wages at UVM.In fact, students, staff and faculty have consistently demanded that President Daniel Mark Fogel implement compensation policies that meet the basic needs of UVM’s lowest paid workers.Within this framework, SLAP has highlighted the daily struggles of workers on this campus, struggles that include having to work two or three jobs just to pay rent or even sacrificing certain basic needs like heat in the winter to put food on the table.SLAP has always maintained, and will continue to maintain, that these are choices that no employees of this University should ever have to make. And finally, a more representative portrayal of SLAP would have recognized President Fogel’s staunch resistance to taking any substantive action to remedy the harms of paying poverty wages.In this way, the administration has put up road block after roadblock to implementing any real livable wage policy. From creating committees to overly exaggerate the costs associated with paying livable wages, Fogel has shown little genuine interest in moving forward with policy alterations, namely providing increased compensation for Sodexho food service workers. Time after time, a broad based coalition of workers, students, community members, staff and faculty have demanded an end to poverty wages at UVM and time after time we have been met with excuses and inaction. It is time now for UVM to make genuine, positive movememt towards implementing a livable wage policy.Respectfully,Maxwell TracyClass of 2009