SLAM delivers letter to university
by Cassandra Cassillas for Washington Square News
The NYU Student and Labor Action Movement met in the lobby of Bobst Library yesterday afternoon to deliver a letter to NYU President John Sexton. The 12 students from SLAM were rewarded when the letter [read it!] was personally accepted by Lynne Brown, the senior vice president of university relations.
The letter demanded that NYU ask the brands that produce the university’s apparel to sign the Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladeshi factories and to terminate contracts with brands that do not comply.
In April, an eight-story building in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed and killed 1,129 people and injured approximately 2,500, prompting the accord. The legal agreement targets retailers, labor organizations and nongovernmental organizations and is meant to protect workers from preventable building collapses, fires and accidents. Several companies signed the accord in May.
“Sweatshops are particularly relevant because we wear apparel every day,” said Gallatin senior and SLAM member Caitlin MacLaren. “We’re doing this as a group because we as students have so much power, and we want them to see how many people want to get rid of death factories.”
According to their Facebook page, SLAM is “a group of students committed to building the natural alliance between students and workers,” and that they “demand NYU uses its power to promote justice.” SLAM’s two main focuses this year are student debt and rights for sweatshop workers.
“This is not the first time we’ve tried to talk to NYU about abolishing sweatshops, but it is the first time since the Savar building collapse in April,” CAS sophomore Anne Falcon said. “The need is much more pressing now.”
The group went to Sexton’s office, where they were met by two security guards. Falcon, letter in hand, explained the cause, and the guards sent for someone from the office. Brown came out to receive the letter and said that the university would respond to the letter shortly.
“That’s the first time I have seen anyone come out of the office to retrieve a paper with demands,” said CAS senior Dylan Monahan, who was part of the protest.
“SLAM works in tandem with a larger organization, United Students Against Sweatshops, which has chapters all across the country,” said Nate Christensen, a GSAS graduate student and unofficial spokesman for SLAM. “This is not the first time we’ve delivered a letter to the president’s office, and it won’t be the last.”
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 18 print edition. Cassandra Cassillas is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.