By Jacob Bryant, The Miami Student

The other day, glancing at The Miami Student’s front page I saw a picture of our new President, looking professional and warming. As I began to peel back the sentences of the article I found interesting content therein; that our new President would be given a salary that is larger than our last’s, plus benefits, of course. I began to ask the “why?” question.

It seems to me that the university heads believe that President Crawford’s experience, theory and expertise qualifies him for such a wage, and I will be the first to say that I am not the one who can play ultimate judge on how we ought to figure wages; after all, I am  a manual laborer and not an economist. Although, I do wonder if I can make an appeal to the wider audience and argue that President Crawford is not the only one deserving of a little raise.

On our Oxford campus we have a milliard of various tradeswomen and tradesmen that work their piece to keep the place running. Groundsworkers keep our campus beautiful and almost unrivaled in its use of natural aesthetics; building workers keep our building’s floors clean, bathrooms sanitary and trash out, taking the smells with it.

We have workers who run trucks and supplies, and workers who organize meetings and connect departments to individuals on campus. Everything on campus has the stain of the fingerprints of the Miami working people on it. These labors are all observable as we enter the classroom when we see a clean chalkboard or when we are handed a prepared meal at the dining hall. These workers are working! What an essential tautology!

It goes without saying, I believe, that without these individuals the university would not be so esteemed for its beauty and academics, and the university administrators would not be able to pull in millions to pay their cadre.

Interestingly enough though, these working-people are largely forgotten and, at times, ridiculed for their occupation. These workers endure years and years of rhetoric telling them they are unskilled and therefore undeserving of a higher wage. Funny, these workers are able to operate machinery that I cannot, and I am sure that the university administration cannot either. They are trained on floor care practices, landscaping methods, etc. They seem skilled and were hired to do a job that involves skill and careful training and it is not all brutish at its core.

It seems to me that there is something mystical about Crawford’s deserving salary. Is it experience and hard work? Maybe, though here on campus there are many workers paid less that $25k a year that have sweated these hallways and sidewalks for decades! It couldn’t be the experience or hard work; if that is the price, the Miami workers have paid it fair.

Could it be that Crawford is paid on his ability to make the university money? Maybe, though here on campus the Miami workers sustain and update the university; those working actually change the physique and appearance, as well as the direction of the university. The entire apparatus is manned by these workers. If sacrifice to the university is the price for a better wage, then Miami workers have paid it fairly.

The Miami community labels these workers as damned and deserving of a life of low pay and near poverty. In all reality, the administrators could afford to spend, in their day, their money and time to get a college education and, because of their hard work in academics are rewarded a position on high, of ORGANIZING LABOR, as opposed to doing material work.

The Miami working folks do not have that luxury. Hours of toil make it hard to take a class, especially with a child as a single parent or with a mortgage staring you down; no higher wages around, this is the best boat in town! But yes, the organization of labor is necessary, but the profitability of this work is absolutely contingent on having a workforce.

Therefore, the Miami workers are presupposed long before the creation of an administration. The existence of the workers creates the need for organization. The large bulk of the profitability, therefore, must rely solely on the manual laborers and the rest to the administration; besides, university leadership is but a minority of the MU workforce. 

So what has held these community members of ours down to such a low standard of living? Workers that have been locally engaged in our university life for years (I even met some who have worked here over 25 years!) and who are the driving force behind every cog in this machine? It looks quite clear; it is classism or class domination of one class by another.

The Miami workers may be present the entire workday, but students, and sometimes faculty, pass them like a shade dancing in fluorescent lightbulb glow. Thus, here is my plea to administration, faculty and students; to consider these valuable employees and to realize, without them, no job could be had for the administration, nor facility, for faculty and students.

The Miami workers are tired and deserve rest in a few extra cents, for they are the masters here.

bryantj8@miamioh.edu

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