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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Editor’s Note: UF President Kent Fuchs published a column, which ran in the Aug. 22 issue of The Alligator, that called for readers to send feedback on what they wanted UF to accomplish over the next decade. This letter was written in response.

Hi Kent,

My name is Howard Rosenfeld, and I graduated from UF in 1992 from the College of Journalism and Communications and also worked at Latin American Studies for a few years. During my studies at UF, I was active with the Undergraduate Economic Society, the Freedom Coalition and Campus NOW. I helped co-found the local institution, the Civic Media Center, in 1993. I moved to Washington state in 1999. I now work in data and analytics for Kaiser Permanente’s newest region in Washington state.

I appreciate you asking for input about what’s next for UF.

I’d like to chime in and agree with the Alachua County Labor Party who responded to your tweet and said a living wage for all UF employees should be “what’s next.” And if you need a place to start, look at the bottom.

While the custodian pay at UF seems to compare well to their counterparts, I’d argue that the entire field is underpaid, and they definitely don’t make a living wage. And that’s just custodians. There are many other job classes near the bottom of the wage rung at UF, in many sectors.

The threat of global income inequality threatens our democracy. This was a topic at the World Economic Forum in 2017 and is a common campaigning point we’ve come used to hearing from Sen. Bernie Sanders.

I would like to challenge UF to lead by example and boost the pay floor for all employees to a living wage — $15/hour. Boosting wages for those at the bottom can be seen not only as the ethical and moral action to take, but it can also been seen selfishly as a self-preservation tactic.

In addition to global warming, this is the issue of the day and if trends continue, none of us will be safe. Quoting Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.”

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