Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Kennedy Rallies Students

Dan Gelfand/The Hoya Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) spoke at GW on Friday, calling on the university to support a student-led effort to improve working conditions.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) launched a blistering attack on the Bush administration and Congress Friday afternoon during a speech at a rally for 11 students, including two from Georgetown, who were arrested Monday during a protest for workers’ rights at The George Washington University.

Kennedy called for legislation, including an increase in the federal minimum wage, to protect workers’ rights, and encouraged students to continue to agitate for greater protections for the poor and needy.

“What you’re doing is about social justice,” Kennedy said to the large crowd of students and activists that had turned out despite the heavy rain that had fallen for the better part of an afternoon. “You are on the cutting, front lines of social justice, fairness in the country and I am here to tell you so.”

Kennedy also demanded more federal aid for college students, and lambasted President Bush and congressional Republicans for failing to help children in poor public schools.

Their spirits seemingly high despite the rainy weather, the crowd of over 100 gave Kennedy a loud ovation as he praised the activism of the 11 arrested students and called for more protests to enhance workers’ rights in the United States and across the world.

“They are men and women of dignity,” Kennedy said, speaking of American minimum wage workers. “They are working very hard and want to have a great sense of pride in doing well.”

Kennedy said that workers such as teachers and nursing home attendants do not want welfare, but only “respect for what they’re doing, and they are entitled to it,” he said. “All these people are asking for is to have some respect and dignity.”

To the crowd’s uproarious approval, Kennedy continued by defining workers’ rights as “a civil rights issue.”

Kennedy reminded students that he had participated in successful rallies for workers’ rights in the past, including one at his alma mater, Harvard University. “They were successful and you will be too,” he asserted, reminding his audience that student activists were often on the forefront of civil rights issues.

The senator, audibly hoarse by the end of his speech, closed by emphasizing the importance of continuous pressure on the government to advance the workers’ rights agenda.

“In this country, if you are willing to work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, in the richest country in the world, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty, and Americans understand that,” he said.

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