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Fight for underprivileged at Notre Dame

Letter to the Editor | Monday, December 10, 2007

I was shocked to read Donna Bromeling’s Letter to the Editor (“Custodial staff deserves fair treatment,” Dec. 4) in which she detailed her plight as a custodial staff employee, who claimed that she has been unfairly compensated and experienced contempt from her supervisors. With her letter, she helped put a face on the working poor among us here at Notre Dame.Last fall, I was excited to hear influential public officials tackle immigration issues at the annual forum, but now I worry that Americans, and indeed even our Notre Dame community, will ignore legal citizens who work hard and follow the rules. I believe that as Catholics, we have a moral obligation to advocate social justice and help those in need, just as Jesus taught us to “feed the hungry and clothe the naked.” Furthermore, Catholic social teachings have long upheld the value of human dignity, which demands a “fair day’s wage for a fair day’s labor.” This in turn then, implies that we, as students, faculty, and staff, who fulfill our own job requirements should be paid a “fair day’s wage.” I would argue that a fair day’s wage should at the very least be enough for a laborer to remain above the federal poverty level or at least enough to secure the basic necessities of life, including food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare.Our Notre Dame leaders challenge us with the question “What would you fight for?” After considering Bromeling’s concerns, I urge university officials and students to fight for human dignity and fair wages. Specifically, I urge the university, at large, to carefully examine the plight of our own working poor and then strive to be a model for the world in providing “fair wages” to each human being that allows them to flourish in the society with dignity and pride for the work that they perform. How can we as future leaders from Notre Dame expect to enact significant changes in the surrounding world unless we first address the needs of our own workers and poor here at Notre Dame?

Christopher DouvillefreshmanStanford HallDec. 6