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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Student-led initiative fights for employment rights

The Hawk News
Daniel De Lude ’25 speaks to new members at the first Hawks for Just Employment meeting, Sept. 6, in Wolfington Hall’s Pope Francis Room. PHOTO: MADELINE WILLIAMS ’26 / THE HAWK

Advocacy for just employment, a raise in minimum wage and basic employee rights, is a topic of conversation that students like Daniel De Lude ’25 encourage others to have, both on- and off-campus.

Hawks for Just Employment (HfJE) is a student-led organization resurfacing for the first time since the covid-19 pandemic began. De Lude, president of HfJE, wanted to bring the organization back as a way to encourage other students to not only advocate for just employment, but have a deeper understanding of the justice focused employment policies that are in place here at St. Joe’s.

“The goal is twofold. We have an employee appreciation and an employee rights thing, and then we have an advocacy thing,” De Lude said. “The advocacy is working for living wages, [and] increasing the minimum wage, not only on campus, but in general.”

The Jesuit mission is deeply rooted in employment rights, said Beth Ford McNamee, associate director of Campus Ministry and HfJE faculty advisor.

“I would say the goals are to connect the mission of the school, the Jesuit Catholic mission and the values, with how all workers on campus are treated, including those that are not directly employed by the university,” said Ford McNamee.

Aside from gaining knowledge and advocating for rights, De Lude also noted that the organization aims to hold larger opportunities to allow students to have hands-on experiences.

“We are planning big events,” De Lude said. “Things like a town hall, or bilingual meetings with custodians who are Spanish-speaking, or different advocacy things to get students informed on campus, like documentaries.”

Ken Weidner, Ph.D., assistant professor of management and director of the Living Wage Policy Study, which uses various research methods to examine wage policies in higher education, said he believes that student-led initiatives like this are important because their passion for the topic can change words into action.

“The cool thing is that this is a group of students that are both motivated and acting upon concern for all of the members of the community and some members of our community that are not invisible, but sometimes we choose not to see them,” Weidner said.

The fight for just policy does not end here at St. Joe’s. De Lude, who worked as a Summer Scholar with Weidner on his Living Wage Policy Study, said he hopes the conversation continues not only within St. Joe’s but also with neighboring universities.

“We are looking at outreach to other schools who maybe need or maybe want to have a living wage movement on their campus to either collaborate with us to give them ideas and to take ideas from them and collaborate,” De Lude said.

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