Organized and United for Respect at Vanderbilt (OUR Vanderbilt) held a free screening of Vanderbilt senior Sebastian Rogers’ documentary “Enough is Enough” on Saturday. The student-produced documentary, funded by Rogers’ Ingram scholarship grant, contributed to the efforts made by OUR Vanderbilt to support campus workers in their efforts to gain a higher wage and avoid summer layoffs, and to create a campus-wide student movement to promote change in the community.
“It’s very tough for a lot of dining workers over the summer. Wages drop, but they’re still expected to pay health insurance. It’s hard to find a job for three months,” Rogers said.
The title of the film came from an interview with a Vanderbilt dining worker who is featured in the film co-created by Rogers and OUR Vanderbilt. OUR Vanderbilt is a student-led organization whose goal is to promote economic justice within the Vanderbilt community through the collaboration of faculty, students, alumni and workers.
The film features a collection of interviews with Vanderbilt dining workers and student activists who expose the disparity between the highest-paid employees in the Vanderbilt faculty and the lowest — some of whom are living below poverty levels.
“I want students to realize that even though dining workers are being friendly and nice and seem to be happy, their living situations can be extremely stressful,” Rogers said.
In the film, workers articulate their experiences trying to support their families and young children on a salary of just over $15,000 a year. Many admit to working multiple jobs just to make ends meet, and even more say they are unable to get work during the summer when they are displaced from their employment in campus dining centers.
Vanderbilt employees fall under Nashville’s branch of the Laborers International Union of North America, the same union that took part in the Living Wage Campaign of 2011. Nonetheless, OUR Vanderbilt argues that the current wage for most workers falls below a just wage compared to the salaries of the university’s top earning employees.
With dining workers and their families in the audience seated amongst student activists and supporters, the film called for student action to lead the movement for economic fairness in the community.
“Everyone brings honor and value to the world. The way to reward that honor and value is by providing a living wage,” one worker said during a post-screening discussion.
“(Our cause) has been in the local news, The Tennessean, The City Paper — but it’s really you, the students, who can make a difference,” another added.
On Oct. 1 at 5 pm, OUR Vanderbilt is hosting a “Rally for Respect” in front of Kirkland Hall to support Vanderbilt workers.