In the fall of 2009, the University of California Board of Regents met at UCLA to discuss and vote for a tuition hike necessary for them to deal with shrinking budget and spending cuts across the board. The Universities’ budget deficits were associated with those troubling the state of California. The proposed increase in tuition of 32% would force annual tuition costs above $10,000 for the first time in history.
On 16 December 2005, the United States House of Representatives passed HR4437, a bill increasing restrictions on immigration and undocumented immigrants. This was the first bill regarding undocumented immigration to pass through Congress.
In 2004, Western Michigan University outsourced its custodial labor to a private company called Commercial Sanitation Management. The contract cut costs for the university by $1.1 million dollars a year and eliminated 58 positions. Commercial Sanitation Management did not pay what the national living wage movement deemed a living wage: $9.50 an hour with health insurance or $10.50 without health insurance.
Following the rise of global food prices in 2007-2008, international investors began buying or leasing large tracts of land in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. In these deals, called the “Great Land Grab,” local governments and private landholders sold over 203 million hectares of land. Organizations, such as the Oakland Institute, have brought these exchanges to public attention through studies and media coverage.
Undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison founded the Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) in 1994 after watching a video in a sociology course about the lockout of 700 workers at A.E. Staley, a sweetener company in Decatur, Illinois. They formed the organization to support the workers’ campaign there, and later spread to university campuses across the country.
In the fall of 1998, Harvard students began a Living Wage Campaign that would last for almost four years. The Campaign was headed by the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM) and aimed to help all Harvard employees receive a “living wage”. The demands of the LWC were that each Harvard employee (janitors, security guards, cafeteria workers, etc.) receive a wage of $10 per hour or more. Most workers were receiving the minimum wage at the time, which was around $6.50. In 1998 Cambridge, MA, this was not enough to get by individually, let alone to support a family.
Beginning in late 2005, students at the University of Vermont (UVM) were involved in a movement to increase the wages of school employees such that workers could be given a "living wage." Primarily focused on food-service employees contracted by Sodexho, the nonviolent campaign sought out and acquired support from local officials, faculty, and even state legislators. The students believed they needed in intervene in order to secure a wage that was equal to the state standard of a living wage as established by the state legislature.
Teresa Sullivan took the position of President of the University of Virginia prior to the 2010-2011 school year. The Rector of the Board of Visitors (BOV), Helen Dragas, began in October 2011 to carry out a plan to remove Sullivan from office.
In November of 2009, a student-organized group at the University of Maryland, College Park, known as STARE (Students Taking Action to Reclaim our Education) formed to act against the cutting of student services at the University. The group, along with other students at the University, feared that the school was “quietly retreating” from its commitment to and stance on racial and cultural diversity at the University.
In 2006, University of Virginia students launched an intensive campaign to raise minimum wages at their institution. Discontented with the minimum $9.37 an hour, these students urged the school’s administration to provide fairer wages, wages that they determined to start at $10.27 an hour.
Students at University of Notre Dame started a living wage campaign at their school in September 2005 after learning about similar campaigns happening at Harvard University and Georgetown University. A living wage was defined as a family of four being able to live above the poverty line on the working parent’s salary. The Notre Dame students campaigned to raise the minimum pay wage from $8.25 up to $12.10 per hour. The group felt that it was the responsibility of the institution as social Catholics to understand the importance of achieving a living wage for workers.
Swarthmore College is a small liberal arts college close to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the spring semester of 2006 campus workers at Swarthmore began to organize a union. For the union to be established a significant number of the workers had to vote in favor. However, some workers felt that the election method at the college, the standard National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) method, did not support a safe environment for the workers to freely express themselves.
In 1961 the United States government created the J-1 exchange visa program that allows for people, including students from other countries, to visit the USA for cultural immersion and work-study. In what is typically a four-month program, thousands of students come to the USA and go to work in jobs provided for them by contractors of the visa program. The program has been critiqued in the past for failing to provide adequate cultural immersion and for using contractors that provide visa holders with poor work placement.
When Dr. Jerry Lee, the sixth president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. announced his plans to step down from the position on August 24, 1987, the Board of Trustees at the University quickly arranged a Presidential Search Committee that would begin looking for candidates to become the new university president. Ultimately, the Search Committee submitted the names of three finalists to the Board of Trustees on February 28, 1988. The Committee had selected: Dr. Harvey Corson (a deaf superintendent of the Louisiana School for the Deaf), Dr. I.
The year 1997 marked the start of a nation-wide anti-sweatshop movement led and fueled by college and university students from over 200 campuses. Inspired by early movements on Georgetown and University of Pennsylvania campuses and enraged by Bill Clinton’s attempt to mollify the public’s anger with the creation of the corrupt Fair Labor Union (FLA), University of Iowa students established a Students Against Sweatshops (SAS, or UISAS) chapter in 1999.
Beginning in January of 2000, Tulane University students formed a student organization on campus as a result of distress about sweatshop-made Tulane Apparel. The students were unhappy with the school’s membership with the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a sweatshop monitoring organization. They believed that the FLA was an organization that indirectly helped to preserve low wages, long hours, and unhealthy working conditions, like the ones found in sweatshops.
The University of Texas admitted black graduate students in 1955 and undergraduate students in 1956, but conditions on campus remained unequal. Admission was limited to an educationally elite section of black students. Facilities, such as dorms, were still segregated and of worse quality than the equivalent dorms for white students. Black students were not allowed to participate in athletics or drama. Protests emerged in the early 1960’s to improve these conditions, but after 3 days of picketing, students decided to focus on other ways of addressing discrimination.
On 1 March 2000, 400 Yale University students rallied to demand that their administration withdraw from the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and join the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) instead. Both organizations focused on monitoring sweatshop labor and apparel companies overseas to ensure that the workers in these companies receive fair treatment; however, universities across the country began to oppose the FLA and argue that it did not actually monitor the companies properly or ensure good working conditions for employees.
In Crystal City, Texas, 87 percent of high school students in 1968 were Chicano, or Mexican American, and nearly half of these were children of migrant farm workers. But the high school principal, five of the seven school board members, and 75 percent of the teachers were white. During the summers, local government and school officials, all white, selected candidates for the fall elections. In doing so, the minority population maintained a majority white school board with just one or two Chicanos they believed to align with their views.
In the spring and early summer of 2009, the Rochester City School District faced serious budget cuts to its schools. Among the schools to be affected was the magnet School of the Arts (SOTA), one of the highest performing schools in the district, which placed a special emphasis on the inclusion of arts in the student curriculum.
There was a scheduled School Board Meeting to be held regarding the budget cuts on June 10, at which time a vote on whether they were to pass was to take place.
By 1964, a handful of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field workers had endured three years of continued repression as they challenged Mississippi’s racial discrimination. Only 6.7% of black Mississippians were registered to vote in 1962, the lowest percent in the country. In 1963 SNCC’s Mississippi operation was facing a stalemate. Since arriving in 1961 they had few concrete victories to show for their hard and dangerous work in the state. They had gotten few people to attempt to register, and even fewer were successful.
In 2001, Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois and Rep. Howard Berman of California introduced a piece of proposed legislation named The DREAM, (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. Under the proposed Dream Act undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally under parental supervision, would have an opportunity to obtain conditional U.S. citizenship with the possibility of achieving full citizenship upon completion of the process and by finally completing either two years of college or two years in the military.
When the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) hired Chancellor Denice Denton in 2004 the transition entailed her earning a salary of $282,000 a year and $600,000 of renovations made on her future house of residence, including a controversial $30,000 dog run. This became a topic of debate; students as well as media critics quickly brought these details to light and demanded accountability for the choices of spending at the University. Under these circumstances, employees at the University began to call attention to the fact that they earned a less than living wage
Students at Washington University of St. Louis formed the Student Worker’s Alliance (SWA) in November 2003 after 36 Nicaraguan campus workers were fired and deported to Nicaragua. SWA aimed to “begin a living wage campaign” for all workers at the university.
Along with many student activists in United States universities in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the University of Buffalo Students Against Sweatshops (UBSAS) ran a campaign to pressure their university to join the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC). After years of student protests and demonstrations, the University of Buffalo (UB) announced that they would join WRC and the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The group of student activists feared that their university’s decision to also join the corporate-sponsored FLA would compromise the efforts and aims of workers’ rights groups.