This report comes to us from the first in a series of visits to campuses around the country where students and workers are fighting back against corporate outsourcing and the exploitation of campus workers.
Today at Kenyon College I joined a group of students, workers and faculty to protest the outsourcing of important members of our Kenyon family. The College is currently deciding whether or not to outsource our maintenance staff, many of whom have served the college for over 20 years, and can trace generations of their family back to this community. Although our administration has created a panel to make a recommendation about outsourcing, students, workers, and faculty had no input as to who would be included on the panel. Only one panel member (the chair) has been allowed to speak outside of meeting times about what happens during panel discussions, which contributes to the lack of information available to the rest of the community. Today we marched to the building where the panel was meeting and protested outside to send a message to our President: Keep the Kenyon Community together; don’t outsource maintenance management!
The community has rallied in support of the Maintenance Department since June, when the administration’s decision to outsource Kenyon workers to Sodexo went public. Students, staff, faculty, and alums spoke out against this decision, which they saw betrayal of what they value most about Kenyon: its tight-knit community. Although the United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 712 secured a two-year contract with the college, community members remain concerned that the administration still intends to outsource.
During the first two weeks of classes, momentum has been building behind a movement to protect Kenyon from corporate outsourcing. On Monday, a group of 21 students and workers gathered for the kickoff meeting of the Kenyon Community Alliance (KCA). Members of this student-led organization believe that all members of the Kenyon family are equally valuable. They aim to work with students, staff, faculty, and alumni to preserve the community they love.
Here at Kenyon we are part of a national student movement to stop the erosion of worker’s rights throughout the United States of America. This is a college, not the state of Wisconsin or a for-profit corporation. If we wanted a for-profit education, we would have enrolled in the University of Phoenix. Our demands are not outlandish, rather we demand that our tiny college on a hill in Ohio uphold the principles of critical thinking and community that it espouses. Our degrees are not the products of economic calculations, but of collaboration and the pursuit of the greater good. We stand with students across the country in United Students Against Sweatshops who fight alongside their campus workers to Stop Corporate Outsourcing.