Students Continue Sit-In At UVA

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

April 12, 2006

Seventeen University of Virginia students continued their sit-in inside Madison Hall, office of University President John Casteen, as dozens lined the front steps of the building Wednesday night. They're all protesting against UVA not raising the pay of some of the lowest paid university employees.

This has been a busy day on grounds and a hard day for some, who say they are standing up for what they feel the University should do.

Wendy Marshall is an associate professor at UVA. While trying to enter Marshall Hall where many of her students are protesting, she was taken away by police for trespassing.

“[The police] said, 'put your hands behind your back,' and they handcuffed me and walked me to the van,” said Marshall. She was not arrested, but will have to go before a judge. She says that she's proud of the leadership role that her students are taking.

“One of the vice presidents of the university said that 'we're not in the business of teaching social justice,' said Marshall. “But I'm in the business of teaching social justice ,and if that's not what we do as a University, what do we do?”

Abby Bellows, spokesperson for the living wage campaign at the University of Virginia, is a 4th year student and says all university employees should make no less than $10.72 an hour. This is what the group says is a living wage for a family of four in Charlottesville.

“This action is not about creating student martyrs. This is about standing up to the poverty wages that the University continues to pay such valuable employees," said Bellows.

Dozens of students joined at Madison Hall pushing for university officials to take a stand, and they say they will continue with their protest until changes are made.

" We need to focus on the disgusting poverty in this community and how the University hasn't stepped up to the moral leadership role that it must take, said Bellows.

"I'll be here every day. As long as they're here, I'll be here," said Marshall.

The University says they will not arrest anyone who's protesting, but they will not allow anyone inside the building to join the 17 students, or for anything to be delivered to them. UVA also has police surrounding the building to make sure that no one enters the building.

The group supporting the living wage has a handout explaining why they are protesting, and it is available for anyone who wants to come by the rally and support the cause. The group says they will continue to sit outside of Madison Hall until changes are made.

Thursday the rally is scheduled to continue at 1 p.m. in front of Madison Hall, and a vigil is scheduled at 4:45 p.m.

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