Hot on the heels of the most powerful and inspiring actions to date in the year-old Wendy’s Boycott — anchored by a weeklong fast held by 19 courageous students and alumni of The Ohio State University — the Fair Food Nation is charging full speed ahead in the Campaign for Fair Food. As the semester comes to an end, join students and youth in fighting against Wendy’s disregard for farmworkers’ fundamental human rights and OSU’s complicity in perpetuating abuses in Wendy’s supply chain by allowing the fast food chain to continue operating on campus.
As Ohio State Student/Farmworker Alliance and Real Food OSU get ready to unveil their next big move in their Boot the Braids campaign, students are lining up to take up their call for a rolling student fast across the country. If you’re ready to add your campus to the succession of student fasts in solidarity with the OSU Boot the Braids campaign, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin organizing your fast today!
First in line to adopt the rolling fast are none other than students at the University of Michigan, joined by Ann Arbor community members, who just began a 24-hour fast in solidarity with the Buckeyes’ campaign. Such an act of camaraderie would otherwise cause bewilderment if it weren’t for the strong link that bounds these two Midwest rival campuses together: a shared mission to remove Wendy’s from campus until the company can guarantee — not with empty words, but with a real commitment — human rights for the workers who pick the produce they buy for their burgers and salads.
Students are demanding that their institutions take a firm stance on supporting enforceable human rights protections in the fields by ending their contractual relationships with Wendy’s, a corporation that has shamefully chosen to do business on farms where workers toil under the same abusive conditions that the Fair Food Program has eliminated in Florida.
And how has the OSU administration responded to students’ demands for justice? It is best captured in this moving reflection by Alex Hoey, one of the 19 OSU student fasters:
“[The administration] knew the facts and knew the right thing to do. If they said “yes,” they would finally keep their promise, rise up for farmworker justice, and set an incredible example for Universities across the country. However, a “no” meant that they would ultimately break their word, be complicit in human rights violations and condone the continuation of our fast on their doorstep. The response, although predicted, was astounding. The leaders of this university are arrogant enough to believe that they have more authority to determine if Wendy’s Code of Conduct is valid than farmworkers in the room who are directly affected by their complicity. An additionally infuriating response came from Dr. J, Vice President of Student Life: “This university is always on the right side of history.” While, at the same time, saying no to a movement that is and always will be on the truly right and just side of history…. A community of people that are fighting — and winning — the battle for basic human rights….This is a day I will always remember.”
There is still time for OSU President Michael Drake to use the leverage he has to move Wendy’s toward joining its competitors in the Fair Food Program, which is the power to end the Wendy’s lease on campus. And until President Drake chooses to keep his promise to students and stop protecting OSU’s business with Wendy’s, the SFA network will be keeping up the pressure!
And on that note, here is another grounding reflection from OSU student faster Reyna Lusson:
“I was particularly struck by the hundreds of people who gathered in the pouring rain for the Parade for Human Rights on Sunday afternoon. Standing alongside farmworkers, fasters and other allies, I became an activist. I felt the urgency of this fight, and the weight of my commitment to it. I felt the hunger of a week without food, and laughed with children from Immokalee and Columbus who broke bread with us. I sung until my voice was hoarse, and held the hands of friends and strangers. I came out of the week feeling closer to the struggle, grateful for the privileges that I’ve been granted, and hopeful that the momentum we’ve created will lead to a victory.”