Last night, 19 students from The Ohio State University and Columbus community members gathered in a small room to break bread together one last time before embarking on a week-long fast for farmworker justice.
As the Return to Human Rights Tour makes its way through the Midwest, members of OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance, Real Food OSU, and Ohio Fair Food will go without food for one week to demand that Wendy’s commit to human rights for farmworkers by joining the Fair Food Program — and to demand that OSU abide by their contractual promise to end the university’s lease with Wendy’s should the corporation not satisfy the concerns of the OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance.
Over homemade soup and fresh bread, fasters heard from Julia de la Cruz and Santiago Perez of the CIW, who participated in the CIW's 2012 Fast for Fair Food, and shared their hopes to deepen solidarity with farmworkers and find new wells of strength for their movement. Over the course of the evening, the room filled with the power of the many fasts and hunger strikes of CIW and SFA's history and those of other movements for farmworker justice — sacrifices that have given birth to new realities of dignity and human rights once only imagined. Each victory of the past is a promise that the fast that launches today brings us closer and closer to an agriculture industry where all may work free from abuse.
As the only major fast food chain that has refused to join the Fair Food Program, Wendy’s continues to take the low road when it comes to human rights violations in its supply chain; its recently updated Code of Conduct still lacks the enforcement mechanisms and participation of workers themselves integral to the Fair Food Program and necessary to ensure workers are treated fairly.
“From past meetings between administration and the OSU Student/Farmworker Alliance, the university already knows this,” said Ben Wibking, a member of OSU SFA. “Ohio State has had years leading up to this point to negotiate and gather information from Wendy’s, and it’s time our school keeps its promise and ends the contract.”
Every day this week, students will be fasting outside of Bricker Hall to make clear that OSU administration, and President Drake himself, cannot be neutral: They can either choose to support a corporation that obscures the abuse of farmworkers through PR gambits; or OSU can choose the side of justice and real human rights. Every morning, students will deliver the demand that OSU end its contract with Wendy’s to OSU administrators, and every afternoon — as a community delegation holds vigil at Wendy’s HQ in nearby Dublin — students will hold an open meeting with a special seat reserved for OSU President Drake until the moment when he chooses to come to the table.
In the lead up the big Parade for Human Rights through the streets of downtown Columbus on March 26, the following 19 OSU undergraduates, graduate students and alumni will be fasting to Boot the Braids from campus:
Alex Hoey, Class of 2019, Geography
Alyssa Gordon, Class of 2018, Sustainable Plant Systems
Amanda Ferguson, Masters Student, Landscape Architecture
A. Tang, Class of 2018, Master of Social Work
Ben Wibking, PhD Candidate, Astronomy
Emily Evans, Class of 2017, Environment, Economy, Development, & Sustainability
Ethan Shillington, Class of 2018, Environmental Science
Graham Spangler, Class of 2016, Environment, Economy, Development, & Sustainability
Henry Peller, PhD Candidate, Soil Science
Laura Kington, Class of 2015, Environment, Economy, Development, & Sustainability
Luke Feist, Class of 2019, Environmental Policy & Decision-Making
Mara Momenee, Class of 2017, Environment, Economy, Development, & Sustainability
Maria Fredericks, Class of 2019, Environmental Policy and Decision-Making
Patrick Kaufman, Class of 2001, Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering
Rachael Birri, Class of 2020, Environmental Science
Rachel Metzler, Class of 2016, Environment, Economy, Development, & Sustainability
Reyna Lusson, Class of 2018, City and Regional Planning
Sally Doyle, Class of 2018, Landscape Architecture
Taya Molloy, Class of 2020, Mathematics
By fasting, the group will walk in the footsteps of thousands of other workers and students who have fought for and won better working conditions in the movement for Fair Food — and they are are launching a national call for solidarity for students and young people to show up like never before.
You can help OSU SFA and Real Food OSU build toward a victory in the Boot the Braids campaign by showing your support in the following ways:
Fast for a day in solidarity with OSU student and Columbus community members
Send photo petitions to President Drake in solidarity with the fast, include where you’re based, and why this is important to you
Write your own reflections and messages of support to fasters
Mobilize your campus or community to join hundreds at the Parade for Human Rights on March 26 (ending at the OSU campus)
Not only will fasters be receiving waves of support from students and youth, but also from people of faith and conscience across the Alliance for Fair Food network. Just last week, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) penned a powerful letter in solidarity with the OSU student fast and invited Presbyterians to participate in AFF's National Day of Prayer and Fasting on Friday, March 24 as the CIW arrives to Columbus to kick off the culminating weekend of action.
Get in touch with us at email@example.com if you’ll be supporting the Boot the Braids fast in any way, and stay tuned for reports from the Return to Human Rights Tour stops in Nashville and Minneapolis coming soon!