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Responding to workplace, social justice issues

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, October 2, 2003

As a past president and current member of the Progressive Student Alliance, I read Tom Haight’s Sept. 29 Inside Column “The Problematic PSA” with considerable interest. While I appreciated the opportunity to learn about Haight’s perspective as the son of campus employees, I must take exception to several of his characterizations of our organization.

Haight seems intent on portraying PSA as group engaged in a propaganda effort aimed at demonizing the University as an employer. Although he is certainly correct in noting that we have been very critical of particular elements of Notre Dame’s employment policies, PSA has also repeatedly acknowledged the many positives associated with working on this campus.

For evidence of this one need look no further than the current edition of Scholastic in which Kate Maich commends the University for offering several fantastic benefits and maintaining a generally good work environment. Indeed, having spent considerable time interacting with employees, members of PSA would be the first to agree that many workers on campus are highly satisfied with their jobs.

Haight accuses PSA of being blind to the charitable work performed by the University and the Congregation of the Holy Cross. I would suggest, however, that it is he who is blind to the possibility that injustice and significant room for improvement can exist within an institution that is otherwise a leading force for good. His own experience notwithstanding, there are men and women working on this campus who struggle to make ends meet on what the University pays them. Furthermore, as B.J. Strew argues, Notre Dame’s position on neutrality and voluntary recognition falls short of what we believe should be demanded of Catholic universities. These are issues that should concern us all.

Particularly baffling was Haight’s claim that PSA considers those in low-income situations to be incapable of amounting to anything. I can assure him that nothing is farther from the truth and I would ask that he point me to anything that indicates otherwise.

As an organization with several members from backgrounds similar to Haight’s own, PSA is itself evidence of the equal capabilities of individuals from all walks of life. I am deeply insulted that Haight would perceive my involvement in PSA as being motivated by the belief that working men and women are inept and somehow in need of my help. On the contrary, I believe I speak for all of PSA when I say we are driven by the knowledge that an injustice to one is an injustice to all and that we are all called to fight injustice whenever and wherever it occurs.

Christian McNamaraseniorMorrissey HallSept. 30