Students, staff volunteer for A Day Without a Woman demonstrations

by Nathanael King / Beacon Staff • March 16, 2017

Emerson students and staff involved in the college’s Alternative Spring Break Program volunteered with local organizations in Boston and El Paso last Wednesday to support A Day Without a Woman rallies in honor of International Women’s Day.

Participants in El Paso worked with multiple workers’ rights advocacy groups to assist in a strike conducted primarily by women farmworkers in the area, Elma Lewis Center Program Coordinator Ashley Tarbet said. She said 10 students and two staff members were on the trip.

Tarbet said that on Tuesday night, Emerson community members toured Sin Fronteras, or “Without Borders,” an organization with a focus on farmworkers’ rights. They spent the evening making signs for the strike the following day, which supported the approximately 170 workers who were laid off last year by Bruce Foods.

On International Women’s Day, Emerson students and staff did not attend the strike.

“We decided to find out what the local community wanted from us, as allies,” Tarbet said.

Instead, they supported an organization called La Mujer Obrera, or “The Working Woman,” by working on their community farm, which aims to achieve food autonomy. Tarbet said their goal was to keep the farm running while allowing actual community members to participate in the demonstration.

The Boston-based Emerson group partnered with Community Labor United, an organization that brings together labor unions and local organizations, to distribute flyers about the wage gap at the rally at Downtown Crossing. Hundreds attended the rally, MassLive reported.

ASB Student Coordinator Revin Moniz said that in the process of scheduling the week’s activities for ASB, he was directed to CLU, one of the main organizers of the rally.

The sophomore visual and media arts major said the Boston rally had a very positive mood.

“It was really, really good,” Moniz said. “We’re in such a crazy political time right now.”

Lindsay McCluskey, senior organizer at CLU, said she prepared the Emerson group for the rally, explaining the nature of the organizations involved and the content of the flyers that students and staff distributed.

“It was a great experience to have some folks from Emerson to help out,” she said.

Director of Academic Engagement and Community Action in the Elma Lewis Center, Suzanne Hinton, said two students and six faculty members helped with the Downtown Crossing rally. She said women’s labor rights were one of the primary focuses of the rally.

“There is a real cost when women don’t show up, because there are things that simply go undone,” she said. “Women’s work is never done.”