One month after Georgetown administrators increased workers’ wages following an eight-day student hunger strike, other universities are feeling similar pressure to raise their employees’ wages.

The campaign at Georgetown may be part of a larger trend which began during a living wage campaign at Harvard in 2001.

According to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group that tracks living wage campaigns across the country, prior to the Georgetown hunger strike there are currently living wage protest movements protesting for a living wage in at least 28 universities nationwide.

The list includes some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, such as Princeton, Stanford and Washington University in St. Louis.

At Washington University, 15 students from the Student Worker Alliance have occupied the university’s admissions office since April 4 and ended a six day hunger strike last Saturday after the university chancellor offered to negotiate with them.

Among other demands, the students are asking that the university raise contracted workers’ minimum total compensation packages to more than $12 per hour.

Nihil Kothegal, a sophomore at Washington University, said that he believed that the protests at his school were part of a larger trend and added that the students had been corresponding with members of Georgetown’s Living Wage Coalition.

“I’m hoping this becomes part of a more national movement,” Kothegal said. “A number of schools are doing this and learning from other students and I hope in a few years that there won’t have to be sit-ins anymore. I hope universities will start proving living wages on their own.”

Jack Mahoney (COL ’08) said that Georgetown students have been providing assistance to a number of similar groups across the country.

Some members traveled to Mary Washington University in Virginia on April 8 to join students for a protest there, he said.

“We haven’t been playing a decisive role in anything but we’re speaking to students working on other campaigns and we’ll be helping out as much as possible,” Mahoney said.

Some students including Kothegal say that their original inspiration for protest was extended living wage campaign that was organized by Harvard University students in 2001. It was one of the first such campaigns in the country.

In April 2001, nearly 50 students occupied an on-campus building and stayed there for three weeks until university administrators offered to investigate the feasibility of raising workers’ salaries.

Following the recommendations of a special committee, university president Larry Summers increased workers’ compensation packages in January 2002.

Members of Georgetown’s Living Wage Coalition say that they hope their actions last month not only helped increase compensation packages for Georgetown’s workers, but will also have a wide-ranging effect across the country.

For now, however, Mahoney said that the coalition is concentrating primarily on ensuring that the university meets its “Just Employment Policy.”

Georgetown introduced the policy on March 23, prompting the 26 members of Georgetown’s Living Wage Coalition to end their strike. The policy says that the university will raise contracted workers’ total compensation to a minimum of $14 by 2007 and adjust workers’ salaries based on the consumer price index after 2008.

“We’ll have one more meeting to make sure that everything that was agreed to is truly done and, God willing, we will see the university implement this,” Mahoney said.

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