January 29, 2023

I’m sure very few remember the disappointing decision of Wittenberg’s administrative staff to end the contract with our previous housekeeping service four years ago.
In ending that contract, the administrative staff placed a higher value on Wittenberg’s budget than the livelihood of the critical support staff who keep Wittenberg running when no one else is watching.
The new contract replaced the entire former housekeeping staff, their fair and living wages, their benefits, their union membership and their livelihood in place of equally talented and hardworking people who were now paid less and worked fewer hours to prevent the need for benefits and fair, living wages. I am writing about this now to call attention to the email we all received recently about the call for proposals for a new housekeeping and dining service contract.
I call upon our faculty, staff, students and administration to place the inherent value of humans and their livelihood at the top of the list in their search for new contracts, not just the dollar amount charged to this institution.
If anyone has looked closely at the re-intepreted Last Supper painting along the back wall of Post, they will notice that Jesus is portrayed as a janitor. Let this message not be lost on you; Jesus walked and served among “the least of these.” Every single human being is inherently valuable, no more and no less than any other; in fact, their value is on par with God himself.
This institution was founded in the Lutheran tradition, and remains rooted in that heritage, a heritage which provides one of the most quality educations in the country and world with a commitment to academic freedom and inquiry, even questioning and criticism of the Church and faith itself. But that heritage also roots us firmly in a tradition of care and compassion, of teaching and practicing justice at all times.
To the committee charged with reviewing these contracts, I encourage you not to forget this, and to the students, faculty, staff and administration absent from this committee, I encourage you not to forget this either and to communicate the priority for compassionate and just employment for all Wittenberg staff and contracts to the committee. “Truly I tell you, whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto me.” (Matthew 25:40).
— Ben Brown, ‘16

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