By Elizabeth Crea
On Friday, Nov. 11 at 4 p.m., a crowd of concerned students did exactly what we are encouraged to do at this college: we spoke truth to power. Along with several grounds crew workers and housekeeping staff, we marched in a respectful protest to President Bierman’s office with a list of requests on their behalf. First, to opt out of the outsourcing contract; second, to honor current workers with internal employment; and last, to engage students and staff in an ongoing dialogue about future changes to the campus.
The first two pleas were rejected. Yet in Bierman’s response via the Terrarium, he encourages us that we will “continue to have regular access” to conversation with him through email, office hours and campus-wide lectures.
I’m not a protester, I’m not an activist, yet this issue hits me close to home. DJ Walters, my housekeeper freshman year and friend of three years, is one of the main reasons I support the workers’ protest against outsourcing.
“We’re more than just housekeepers, and you’re more than just students to us. We are a community,” Walters said in a recent interview with the Round Table. I am proud to call her my “Beloit mom,” and she is often more accessible to me than my own professors, advisors, and office staff at this institution.
While students have many reasons for protesting, the main concern for most of us is the potential loss of our collective Beloit family and how this loss will affect their livelihoods. And while only some students remember the job and budget cutbacks of 2008, the fear of layoffs is very real for many employees, and we must acknowledge this as a looming problem.
I imagine that this will be a long and difficult transitional process, yet I, and many other concerned students, will continue to support our Beloit College family.