First Generation and Working Class Club Organizes May Day Gesture

Daniel Kim

Custodians and Bon Appétit employees may be the most unrecognized workers at Whitman College. Members of the First Generation and Working Class Club are aware of this, and they’re working to change it.

To accomplish this goal, club members will be posting fliers with photos of workers and notes of thanks all around campus the night before May 1, which is International Workers’ Day. They hope that these fliers will remind students to remember the individuals who work hard to keep campus clean.

FGWC President sophomore Ashley Hansack was inspired to organize a May Day campaign by her memories of May Day celebrations in her hometown.

“One thing that they do in Los Angeles is having May Day, where many Hispanic people don’t go to work and protest downtown. We wanted to bring a sense of that to campus, but we didn’t want people to protest and [we wanted] to have more of a celebration. This year our focus was the Bon App employees and the custodians, and the May Day on campus is just to feature these workers and make Whitman students think about who cooks their meals and cleans after them more.”

Having grown up with a working class mother, Hansack felt it was important to acknowledge the individuals who have a huge impact on the community, yet still sometimes feel unappreciated.

“One inspiration that came to this campaign was my mother. She has been a cleaner for wealthy families in L.A. and I feel like she is really invisible, and I feel that it’s definitely prevalent to these workers on Whitman campus. This feels normal and we never think twice about who cleans.”

Campus workers noticed the fliers around campus and believed the gesture was thoughtful.

“It was very nice and I appreciated that. It lets us know that students see what it takes to keep this building clean and they appreciate it,” custodian Tamara Anderson said.

Club members hope to continue to celebrate May Day in the future. Sophomore FGWC member Eduardo Vazquez hopes that next year’s fliers will draw even more attention to campus employees.

“We will probably make flyers that are more eye-catching because it looked minimalistic. My goal is to make something that is more derivative and riveting. When she came up to me, I didn’t have much time to work on them and so next time I could do a lot better on making better fliers,” he said.