Football Player One of Many Students Fasting at UVA for Worker's Rights

 A hunger strike at UVA in support of a living wage for campus workers has been garnering more an  more attention recently, due to its duration and intensity. One of the student strikers, Yahoo! sports notes, is an athlete:

Rarely do we see student-athletes, football players, get involved in political matters that affect the universities where they play. We're not talking about student government, but the politics that happen within the university, disputes between workers or teachers and administration

Virginia safety Joseph Williams is changing that.

For the past eight days, Williams, a junior walk-on who has played in two games during his career, has been on a hunger strike "to protest the economic and social injustices perpetrated by the UVa administration against the vast majority of the University's service-sector employees."

The hunger strikers Williams has an essay up at about why he and more than a dozen others are hunger striking, revealing his own history of economic hardship:

Growing up, I moved over 30 times – including various stays in homeless shelters, the homes of family friends, and church basements. As a result of these experiences, I know firsthand what the economic struggle is like for many of these underpaid workers. One UVa employee anonymously shared that though she works full time for the University, over 40 hours a week, her family was still forced to go without electricity for nearly 3 months, unable to pay for the rent, electric bill and other basic necessities on the meager wages she is paid by the University. Such stories are the reason that I  and countless other Living Wage supporters have chosen to take up this cause and give a voice to the many University employees who often cannot speak up for fear of retaliation from the administration. 

The hunger strike, a week long, is taking a physical toll on some of its participants:

As the strike continues, some strikers are being instructed by doctors to withdraw from the fast based on health issues. After experiencing severe physical symptoms, Brianne Pitts, a third-year student at UVA, was one of the students instructed to end her fast.

There are 17 remaining strikers that are still on strike, hoping that UVA administrators will agree to address the living wage policy.

According to the campaign, UVA President Teresa Sullivan has only agreed to meet with the campaign on Monday, which would be the 10th day of the hunger strike.

To read more about the living wage campaign at UVA, check out Living Wage At UVA.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at February 25, 2012, 6:55am

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