Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Marching for Farmworker Rights

This past weekend, dozens of St. Thomas University (STU) students joined students from Barry University and local community leaders in a “March for Fair Food” alongside one of the nation’s leading farmworker-rights organizations. The march was the culmination of the semester’s work, with STU students joining the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' (CIW) call for Wendy’s and Publix to join the Fair-Food program – a land-mark agreement that ensures that the produce of restaurants and supermarkets is produced in fair working conditions.

Throughout the semester students had issues of farm labor, agriculture and immigration integrated into their classes – classes facilitated by St. Thomas University’s Center for Community Engagement, the central unit for connecting university teaching and research to social issues.

In addition to their studies, students participated in day-long immersions to Immokalee, Fla., where they worked with direct service providers and met with the CIW, one of the nation’s leading farm work advocacy organizations.

“We’ve worked for years with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and are honored to do so again this year,” said Anthony Vinciguerra, coordinator of STU’s Center for Community Engagement. “The US Catholic Bishops Conference, as well as Archbishop Wenski himself, have a long history of supporting farmworker rights. This is a way we are able to engaged students from a variety of disciplines in the Church’s teaching on farmworker rights, as well expose them to ways they can make a real difference in the world. It means bringing theory to action – and it is a key part of what makes our university Catholic.”

How STU professors integrated farm labor, agriculture and immigration throughout the semester:
Dr. Giselle Jamison, associate professor of political science, examined issues of international human rights law and its applicability to modern-day slavery in Florida’s tomato fields in her introduction to international relations class. Theology professors Dr. Jennifer Kryszak and Dr. Nathaniel Samuel used the ideals of Catholic social teaching and the call of the Christian community to examine a faith-based response to abuses in agriculture. Assistant professor of history, Dr. Michael Mulvey, created a course that examined the history of gender labor inequalities and the prevalence of these issues in Florida’s fields. Finally, professor of philosophy Dr. Darrell Arnold re-developed an introduction to university studies class to examine models of grass-roots leadership, and its application in Florida’s struggle for farmworker justice.

For more information, contact Anthony Vinciguerra at 305-628-6717, avinciguerra@stu.edu.

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