A better Tulane, a better New Orleans
Saturday January 19th 2019

Students Sit-In at President Cowen’s Office: We Shall Not Be Moved!

On April 21, 2011, the Tulane University Peace Action Committee held a sit-in in President Cowen’s office. We first came to President Cowen with our concerns 15 months ago. Since then we have fought tooth and nail to get a Labor Code of Conduct in place, so that the workers on our campus would have some basic protections on the job. We met with resistance at every turn. We were delayed with bureaucratic loopholes. We were told by Tulane that we should contact Sodexo, and when we contacted Sodexo, we were told to contact Tulane–neither party was willing to take responsibility for doing something about the reprehensible way workers were being treated on our campus. The legitimacy of our claims was constantly being questioned by President Cowen and the administration–the very people who should have been helping to get a code of conduct in place, not resisting it.

It has been a very difficult campaign; and in April, we decided that enough is enough: it was time to sit-in.

Now let us be very clear on this point: we did not sit in for the sake of making trouble. We sat in because we wanted to demonstrate to President Cowen and the Tulane Administration that we are not going to back down; that we are strong; that we believe wholeheartedly in our cause. And we sat in because we knew that it was the only way to get our voices heard. We sat in to tell President Cowen that we would not accept a Labor Code of Conduct that did not have input from workers and students.

The voices of students and, even more importantly, workers, have not been a part of the process of creating a Labor Code of Conduct. The Social Issues Committee failed to hold any open hearings; failed to consult with workers; failed to listen to students; and failed to cooperate with TUPAC as we attempted to involve the voices of workers and students in the Labor Code of Conduct Process. The result? A proposal that failed to address the core concerns we have raised (more on the progress of the Labor Code of Conduct in our next post).

Our sit-in was written about in the Chronicle of Higher Education and truthout. Tulane was just one of many schools where students staged sit-ins to protest the disgusting way that college administrators across the country have taken the side of Money over Morals, and chosen to support Sodexo over the men and women who clean our buildings, prepare and serve our food, and keep our campuses running.

The Tulane University Peace Action Committee sends its solidarity to those students who were arrested for taking part in non-violent demonstrations just like our own: 7 at Emory, 27 at the University of Washington, and 5 at William and Mary. Luckily, no students were arrested at Tulane.

Solidarity forever!

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