It Is Time to Take Action for Workers’ Rights

by Tarang Saluja, Sophie Peterson, and Olivia Medeiros-Sakimoto

April 13, 2023

Do you remember why you applied to Swarthmore? In the 2022-2023 U.S. News rankings, Swarthmore was ranked as the #4 liberal arts college in the country. The class sizes are generally small, which allows professors and students to connect more meaningfully. The campus (when not choked by construction fences) is a beautiful arboretum that neighbors a pretty patch of woods split by a creek. And for the 95% of students who live on campus, a swipe into the dining hall offers warm all-you-can-eat food from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. But let’s face the facts: when students apply to Swarthmore, they have only seen the picture-perfect, public-facing facade of the institution. 

For an institution that publicly claims to support its students, faculty, and staff alike, boasting a magnificent image of diversity in prospective student marketing campaigns, Swarthmore’s treatment of its employees reveals a lack of workers’ rights. Swarthmore College is only possible because of the people who do the work to supply facilities, amenities, and needed services on a daily basis. The workers of the college provide the education, the campus’ beauty, the food, the cleaning and maintenance, and more. For their work, they deserve respect and dignity. That is, at the very least, a living wage, good benefits, and a healthy working environment. Unfortunately, recent events continue to demonstrate how Swarthmore does not care enough about its workers. 

With the opening of the new dining center, known by students as “Narples,” workers have faced increasing challenges. Primarily, their wages do not cover the cost of living. Many workers must take second, and sometimes even third jobs, and thus have very little time off. This, along with unpopular changes like the new late-night hours, has resulted in a staffing shortage. Temps have been hired to partly fill the gap, but there remain too few hands in which to distribute the work. read more