Students sit in at Low

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A group of 15 student activists have entered Low Library, and are refusing to leave until President Bollinger re-re-commits to sweatshop-free apparel production.

The sit-in comes just hours before a planned talk entitled “Coping with Globalization” featuring NY Times columnist Paul Krugman. We’re guessing Krugman’s coping doesn’t involve hand-painted signs.

Students at 10 universities are planning sit-ins this week. Spring has arrived!

UPDATE 2:40 p.m.

A few minutes in, the mood is jovial. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich (all organic, we can only assume) was just thrown from one side of the circle to the other. Discussion is centering on Weber and the meaning of “blow your wad.”

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.

The siegers (yes, they’re SEEJ’ers) are still camped out in Low. A number of administrators (Colombo, Hogarty, Chaplain Jewel) have dropped by, but the big man himself is still at an event up at the Medical School campus. The legal observer (read: Law School student with neon green hat reading “Legal Observer) continues to monitor the situation for police– well, Columbia Security– brutality. T minus 1:30 until Krugman shows up.

UPDATE 8:00 p.m.

Sit-in over. Brinkley promises a meeting tomorrow between administrators and student activists. He also promised the University would send a representative to a national conference on Sweatshop-free campuses. Let’s all sleep a little easier tonight knowing a great show was put on for the Day on Campus kids.

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  1. question

    Who are they? SEEJ folks?

  2. spec

    tomorrow's headline? "SEEJ brings Low under actual siege"

  3. sweatshop worker

    what complete and total losers! get a life!

  4. sweatshop worker

    yes, please give me a truncheon to beat those annoying little children.

  5. sweatshop worker no. 2

    they are annoying. they want me to go back to my miserable life of rural subsistence. at least here in manila/jakarta/calcutta I have a chance to improve my life, even if it still looks like hell to spoiled western kids.

    • whatever

      Hooray, I suppose, for self-satisfied Econ majors moonlighting as sweatshop workers.

      What's wrong with SEEJ's cause? They'd rather we didn't support businesses that treat their workers like shit. Consumer choices to be moral won't change everything, but it does begin to move in the direction that demands a minimum level of dignity to workers.

      • dignity

        when the us and britain were industrializing, workers were treated like shit. the same is happening in southeast asia and elsewhere. it's a natural phase in their economic growth- the means toward socioeconomic betterment for their entire societies, and by itself better for workers than to be marooned far from cities with (limited but at least existing) education and health care services.

        anti-sweatshop morality is well meaning but misplaced.

        • if, then

          The argument that what has once been must always be does not really hold water for a lot of us. For one thing, the US and Britain were not exporting everything (including most of the profits) into fabulously wealthy foreign markets, were they? And the average industrial worker was not able to produce nearly as much output in a given amount of time then, was he? It is also worth pointing out that labour conditions in the West improved precisely when the sort of higher wages and democratic representation that SEEJ is demanding was introduced.

          • it's a question of

            when there's been enough investment in a given country to allow for wages to rise. usually this is a natural process, the result of the saturation of "rich foreign markets" and the need for higher-paid workers to constitute a domestic consumer class.

  6. 12

    What if paying a worker extremely low wages by U.S. standards isn't treating them like shit, but is actually paying them well above the market wage and giving them unprecedented earning power? What if the long hours of a "sweatshop" are better than those in the fields? Honestly, I don't have any problem with a company paying unskilled workers for example $2-3/day if they would be earning less than $1/day otherwise.

    • of course....

      No one is asking that we pay US minimum wage. The sentiment you express is not shared by the factory owners, and wages will not "naturally rise" unless there is pressure of some kind on factory owners, despite what is taught in introductory macroeconomics. Upward motion comes through pressure from buyers to provide a living wage and pressure from democratic worker representation.

  7. cake

    didn't SEEJ bake Bollinger a cake the last time they wanted him to talk about this? why didn't they do that again?

  8. oooh

    bake me a cake! please!

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