Vance Wyatt, Concordia University Student: "I want the workers to know that Concordia students support them."

Ashley Wood 4:12 PM - June 7, 2010

Vance Wyatt is a junior at Concordia University in Chicago. He is a full-time student and Chairman of his university's chapter of Young Democrats. He also works part time in Concordia's library. 

Vance lives with his mother, a single parent and a school bus driver, in North Chicago. In an economic climate that has seen more and more working families abandon hope of sending their kids to college, Vance credits many of the opportunities he's had to the fact that his mother is part of union. 

"We're better off than we would be if she didn't have a union," Vance says, "She makes enough to live on and she has health care." 

So when the Sodexo food service workers at his college told him they were trying to form a union to win fair pay and health care, he wanted to help. Vance took the issue back to Concordia's Young Democrats. He made leaflets and distributed them on campus. 

According to Vance, that's when the trouble started. 

Shortly after the leaflets went up, Vance was called in to meet with Concordia's Dean of Students, Jeff Hynes. Dean Hynes warned Vance that the University had denied status and funding in the past to student groups deemed "too radical." 

Concordia has a fairly new Young Democrats chapter and a much more established Young Republicans chapter. Both have worked in coalition with community groups on social and political issues in the past. To Vance's knowledge, neither has ever been characterized as "radical" or threatened with dissolution before. 

Several weeks later, Dean Hynes spoke at a student government meeting--another campus group of which Vance is a part--about the possibility of Concordia's food service workers unionizing. Hynes told the students that their tuition would go up if the Sodexo workers successfully formed a union. 

Vance sent a Facebook message to fellow student government representatives dispelling this myth and reminding them that their tuition has been rising for the last several years as it is. 

Despite the aggressive response from the University administration, Vance and Concordia's Young Democrats are continuing to support the organizing Sodexo workers.

"I want the workers to know that Concordia students support them," Vance says. "We're here. We care."

From: Clean Up Sodexo