President Rochon didn’t want to talk about Sodexo workers’ wages at the student discussion of the IC20/20 Vision Plan?
On Thursday, Oct. 7 at Emerson Suites, President Rochon invited Ithaca College students to discuss the objectives, initiatives and proposals of the IC20/20 Vision plan, which outlines various programs and ideas the school administration hopes to develop over the next decade (for more details on the plan, you should have an e-mail about it on your IC account on Oct. 5). IC20/20 is admittedly not a bad pun, and much of the document appears well-meaning and focused on the improvement of the institution in the coming years.
During the discussion, however, a small group of students raised questions as to whether Sodexo employees working on the IC campus will ever receive fair treatment and a living wage. According to Buzzsaw’s own Alyssa Figueroa in her May article “Putting a Fork Into Sodexo,” only Sodexo service supervisors and production supervisors at IC make above the Tompkins County living wage of $11.11 per hour.
Some students at the meeting questioned whether IC would either drop Sodexo as a subcontractor or make sure workers were paid a living wage. Other issues students wanted to address included Sodexo employee job security and employee rights to year-round, affordable healthcare. Rochon brushed off these concerns, reportedly calling it a stretch to apply this issue to the ideas of IC20/20, since meeting attendees were given a list of talking points to address.
Here at Buzzsaw, we simply point to Objective 4 in the plan: “We will educate students for civic engagement in order to develop character.” If Rochon and the administration want a more involved, engaged student body as we progress through the next decade, that means he needs to respond more fully to the students who try to address the biggest labor concerns on campus right now.
This is just one example of the administration saying it wants students to be involved, but then stifling involvement when students raise controversial questions.
Thus far, Rochon has skirted the topic of Sodexo wages on the basis that the college does not pay those workers. Addressing Sodexo workers’ rights is a hugely pertinent issue for IC20/20, however, if the school truly wants to enhance its image and produce a campus of students confident in their ability to effect change through civic engagement.