Tulane community must show contract workers respect

Bruff Commons is not just a place to grab food for many Tulane students, but a place to decompress from daily stresses, meet with friends and relax and — with the warm welcome from various Sodexo employees — it begins to feel like a home. Many Tulane students, however, fail to treat these important members of our community with respect on a daily basis.

This is not restricted to Bruff workers. Community members’ disrespect of people — from those who drive Tulane shuttles to the people who clean in the residence halls — is a shameful trend.

Twenty-five-year-old Tiffany Thomas, a Sodexo employee who worked at Bruff, died on Jan 31. The Hullabaloo’s thoughts go out to her two children, ages five and eight, and her family, friends and community.

Many community members reached out to Thomas’ family including one who created a GoFundMe to help defray funeral expenses. Some students took to social media with frustration and sadness at the lack of response from the Tulane administration on Thomas’ death. The vital question, however, is where was this outrage and empathy before her death?

We should not only mourn the loss of community members but also make a cognizant effort to value them when they are still with us. We must look inward and not only be saddened by the loss but work toward ensuring we treat those around us better. We need to value the lives of those around us and remember they are not just serving our meals but are individuals who have families and lives and care for us, and we should do the same for them, even by simply starting a conversation.

We, as a community, need to ensure we follow through and provide the same support, comfort and sense of family Tulane’s contracted workers so often provide for us.

Issues with Tulane’s treatment of contracted employees have always existed. Tulane’s contracted workers receive derogatory treatment. They are not allowed to ride on our shuttles, receive minimal pay and work long hours, and certain members of the community treat them with little respect.

Follow-through from the community is not only necessary but vital. The larger question remains — what was done for Thomas prior to her death? We must rally for support unconditionally, not just when negative things happen to a member of our community.

Rather than criticize the administration for its actions, we must take it upon ourselves to become a community that cares. While we may continue to urge the university to improve its treatment of contracted workers, we as students must uphold that same standard.

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