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The Claims We Make

Make Claims on Us
An action plan for incorporating social justice within the
employment practices of Santa Clara University.

By Sunny Merik Lockwood


July 1993
Executive Summary

In his 1992 convocation address to faculty and staff, Santa Clara


University President Paul Locatelli, S.J., announced a bold new direction for
the university. Along with detailed discussion of budget concerns, he
articulated the university’s commitment to social justice and its role in
educating men and women with conscience and a concern for the poor.
A comparison of SCU’s low-wage employees’ incomes and the high
cost-of-living in Silicon Valley indicates that there are those in the
university’s workforce who would objectively be categorized as the working
poor. The 68 workers in the three lowest pay rankings for fulltime, non-
union employees (grades 13, 14, 15), earn an average income of $19,718 per
year. In Santa Clara County, furthermore, a single person earning $20,000
qualifies as “very low” income. Many of SCU’s low-wage employees
support a family on their income.
The financial stress of these parents, struggling to meet family
expenses on take home pay of $1,300 - $1,600 a month is usually invisible.
These workers are the invisible voiceless in SCU’s labor pool.
As Gustavo Gutierrez says in another context, “The present
situation…has been so completely accepted by some and so completely
taken to be the proper order of things that every expression of disagreement
becomes unnatural and is grounds for suspicion.…” [1]
Although Gutierrez is referring to the politics of the larger society, we
must guard against the same tendency to dismiss the suffering of those
whose suffering is commonplace. We must, because of our goals and ideals,
search for ways to end the suffering of our workers.
Notwithstanding SCU’s efforts to refine and redefine its financial
future, with our commitment to social justice we cannot ignore the suffering
of those who form the working backbone of the university community. To
be true to our claims, we must change the current situation.
The following pages offer several suggestions. In the spirit of Paulo
Freire, some – such as establishing a campus-wide barter system—come
from the working poor themselves.
Jon Sobrino, S.J., who read the term paper version of this action plan,
said the research established the proper foundation, the personal stories were
sad and troubling, and the suggested solutions were practical and workable.
“Something must be done,” he said, “because this is a Christian
university.”
The suggestions are by no means comprehensive, but can perhaps be
used to generate more workable and practical solutions.
If Santa Clara University will take the bold stand to incorporate social
justice in its employment practices, it can become a national model for all
the best of reasons. In addition to assuming social justice leadership in the
world of higher education and corporate management, SCU can educate its
students through the power of its example, not just its rhetoric.
Santa Clara University’s
Commitment to
Social Justice

“Jesus struggled against any type of social force, which, in one way or
another, dehumanized human beings. To Jesus, God’s archetypal plan is
for human beings to have life. Life, in all its fullness, including its
materiality, is God’s first mediation.” – Jon Sobrino, S.J. in The Epiphany
of the God of Life in Jesus of Nazareth.

In his September 18, 1992, convocation address, President Paul


Locatelli, S.J., talked about developing a different vision that educates “for
leadership and to be a voice of reason, understanding, and compassion.”
Locatelli said, “Our vision involves the kind of justice that asks us to
challenge all our graduate and undergraduate students to make no significant
decision without first thinking of its impact on the least important members
of society.”
That vision, that standard, must also be applied to SCU itself. The
university must, if it is to be true to this goal, apply these ideals to its own
corporate structures and institutional practices. The president’s address
supports such a premise, for Locatelli went on to say, “What we expect of
our graduates, we must also ask of ourselves. The university – as a
university – must evidence a concern for promoting the common good. As
Kolvenbach urges, we must work to understand the drama in the human
situation … and, as a university with its own voice, oppose all that is
inhuman in contemporary culture. The university offers society the
guidance of intelligence, compassion, and reason – and those are society’s
best hope for the future.”
Theologian Jon Sobrino, S.J., says it this way: “Faith in God goes far
beyond conventional theism and atheism. It takes its stand where things are
happening, where the groaning of history can be heard and touched. Rather
than directing its gaze above and beyond injustice and death, Christian hope
takes a stand against injustice and death.” [2]
SCU administrators forcefully promote the idea that faith expressing
itself in social justice is a basic guiding principle of the university. It stands
to reason, then, that as an institution, Santa Clara must make social justice a
reality in the lives of its own employees if its rhetoric is to mean anything.
The Institution’s Role in
Creating a Just Society

“Evil is systemic – it has an uncanny way of becoming embodied in the


structures of society in ways that almost give it an independent existence.” –
Robert McAffee Brown in The Pseudonyms of God.

Every organization, whether it is a city, a corporation, or a university,


contains structures and practices that oppress. This institutionalized
oppression denies and actively opposes the reign of God (one element of
which is a just society that does not take advantage of the poor, but rather,
puts an end to their suffering).
Likewise, every organization can potentially remove obstacles to the
reign of God through altering structures and changing practices that
victimize.
Liberation theology urges Christians to examine the organizations in
their lives, find how those organizations exploit or oppress the poor, and
then work to change the organizations so that they no longer take advantage
of the poor.
“Poor,” of course, is a relative term. The poor in my neighborhood
may be wealthier than the poor in south-central Los Angeles. And the poor
in sough-central L.A. are no doubt better off than a family living on the
streets of Calcutta or in the slums of San Salvador.
Yet, as the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:20-30)
indicates, whoever is poor within our sphere of influence, within our
immediate community, deserves our attention. Those whoa re kept poor by
institutionalized structures and practices are the ones with whom Christians
must identify, the ones through whose eyes Christians must view the world
and determine how to change it so that the poor will not continue as victims.
If we determine how to change it so that the poor will not continue as
victims.
If we reduce the victimization of the poor, the world will be better for
all, hope will be renewed, and the promise of the coming reign of God will
be (at least partially) fulfilled.
As in the parable, it is the poor at our doorstep who give us the
opportunity to develop compassion and a praxis that lifts the yoke, lightens
the burden, and points to the possibility of the coming of the Kingdom of
God.
The Working Poor at
Santa Clara University

“A spirituality of liberation will center on a conversion to the neighbor, the


oppressed person, the exploited social class, the despised race, the
dominated country. Our conversion to the Lord implies this conversion to
the neighbor.” – Gustavo Gutierrez in A Spirituality of Liberation

Santa Clara University resembles a small town. Social classes within


this working community mirror the class structures of the larger world. Who
are Santa Clara’s poor neighbors and what is the “just” response to those
neighbors in need?
In 1992, according to SCU’s Human Resource Management
Department, there were 560 non-unionized staff employees. In the three
lowest pay-scale rankings for full-time employees (13, 14, and 15), 68
workers earned an average of $19,700 per year. Of these, 19 were also
paying for dependent health benefits. In pay scale 16, 83 workers earned an
average of $25,400. Of these, 24 were paying for dependent health benefits.
Approximately 90 percent of all these employees were women.
At the other extreme, the top of the pay scale (grades 24, 25, and 26)
annual incomes ranged from about $46,000 to more than $92,000. The
deans, vice presidents, associate vice presidents and many department
directors fill these higher-paying categories.
Although it is not the “wealthy” in the university’s social/economic
system that is the focus of this action plan, it is important to recognize the
significant gap between the lowest and highest paid employees and ask
ourselves if a gap of this proportion represents our principles of social
justice.
Santa Clara’s “poor neighbors” are those who work full-time, keeping
the university’s employment infrastructure operating smoothly, and yet who
must struggle to live and raise their families on meager earnings.
“In pricey Santa Clara County, a single person earning $20,000 or a
family of four earning $29,750 a year qualifies as ‘very low’ income.” [3]
According to the “Santa Clara County Budget and Analysis,” a report
from the Office of the County Executive, the average income in the county
was $63,551 for families. The median income was $53,670. The average
income in 1992 for one-worker families was $51,290.
The median household income of county cities ranged from a high of
almost $116,000 to a low of around $41,000 with a countywide average of
$48,000 in 1992.
Obviously, an income of $19,700 or $25,400 is extremely modest for
our county.
According to the same report from the County Executive’s Office,
average monthly ownership costs for a home in the county were $1,487; for
a mobile home, $531; for a condo, $1,313.
From a liberation theology viewpoint, these figures reveal that the
women and men in the lowest paid categories at SCU deserve our attention
and care. They are the working poor in our community.
How The Working Poor
Of SCU Cope

“To ignore injustice in the name of avoiding conflict is merely to drive the
injustice deeper into the social structures and make more difficult the
ultimate reconciliation.” – Robert McAffee Brown in Religion and Violence

I asked six full-time employees to describe how they cope on their


low incomes. All take home between $1,300 and $1,600 per month. Most
are women with wage ranks of 15 or 16 (higher income than the average
quoted in the beginning of this paper). All the women interviewed perform
secretarial or clerical type tasks. All are either supporting someone besides
themselves (children or spouse), or had supported someone else until very
recently.

Worker A – a single mother – supports three children on her SCU


income. The family lives in a rented house.
“I’m able to provide my children with a home because I’m on Section
8. That means I’m poor enough to qualify for state subsidized housing.
Section 8 is a rental program for low-income families. Without this program,
my family would be in a dingy apartment and I’d probably have to find a
roommate.”
Under the Section 8 program, Worker A pays one-third of her
monthly rent and the state pays two-thirds.
Worker A rations everything – electricity, water, food.
“We don’t watch much TV. We make sure the lights are turned off
when not in use. I buy groceries in bulk. I only buy what we need.”
Worker A’s car was given to her as a gift. If it breaks down she has no
money for repairs and so must take the bus to work.
“Sometimes I find it hard to get along on the income, but I’ve gotten
used to it. I budget. It’s not easy raising three children, but I make sure the
necessities are there. They get what they need, but not anything extra.”

Worker B – a single mother – is supporting one child. She has completed


one-and-a-half years of college.
“We go without a lot. No vacations. No movies. No new clothes. My
parents buy my son’s clothes. His birthday is close to the start of school, so
they buy new school clothes each year as his birthday present.
“I work just to keep us surviving. My car payments are very difficult.
I buy food in bulk. I hold garage sales to raise additional funds when I need
them.
“My son recycles to raise his spending money.
“The most difficult aspect for me is that I cannot give my child what
others enjoy. There’s no bicycle. No vacations. I must use my vacation time
when he is sick or when there is a school event that I must attend, like
teacher conferences.”

Worker C – a single mother – has two college degrees and is raising one
child on her salary.
“My parents help buy my child’s shoes. Those are the really
expensive things these days.
“I live close to campus and that cuts down on transportation costs.
“I’m a good cook. We rarely eat out. But I buy lots of fresh food.
“We never go on vacations.
“Half my monthly salary pays the house payment. We try to live on
the other half. At income tax time when I get a refund, I do needed repairs
on the house.
“Because my divorce took place in the 1980s (when prices were
lowers), I was able to buy a modest tow-bedroom house. That means I’m
much better off than some single moms.
“The most difficult part of this situation is that we have no sense of a
cushion. We live right at the limit of my income. It’s scary to know we have
no savings. There is no confidence that we can do anything extra. If
someone die3s, we have no money for a plane trip to the funeral.”

Worker D – a single woman – supplements her $1,300 a month


paychecks by doing desktop publishing for non-profit groups.
“My mother gave me my car for a gift nine years ago. I have a
wonderful neighbor who repairs it for free.”
Until last year, she supported two children on her salary.
“I never shop for clothes. I sew what I need.”
At Christmas she makes and sells gift items to earn money for
Christmas presents.
“On and off I’ve had to rent out a room to earn enough extra to make
ends meet. The really difficult times are when the car and house insurance
payments come due.”
She’s taken one vacation in seven years.
Worker E – a married woman without children – supplements her
income by doing tailoring. She is the primary support in her family, although
her husband works two part-time jobs.
“I’ve had to turn to the Salvation Army to help me pay our utility bills
at times,” she said. “We’re living hand-to-mouth.”
She buys no new clothes. She sews most of what she wears.
“I buy food in bulk when I can afford to. We have only one car. We
take no vacations. When you live this close to the edge, you do nothing
spontaneous. Everything has to be carefully planned and budgeted. It’s hard
coming up with the rent each month. We have absolutely no entertainment
budget. We have no family safety net.”

Worker F – a single man in his mid-30s – has been a university


employee for more than seven years. He takes home about $1,600 a month.
“I rent a room from an older relative. My rent includes meals,” he
said.
Because of this arrangement, he is able to buy a fairly new
automobile. His automobile is important to him. Yet, he finds maintaining a
vehicle to be burdensome.
“I’d like to buy a new car, but whenever I start to save up enough for
a down payment, something goes wrong with the one I have and my savings
go to repair it.”
He finds his situation discouraging. “Such a low income puts limits on
everything. It makes it very difficult to even think about marriage or
anything else. Like getting a place of my own. I can never save enough for
first and last month’s rent and a deposit. For the three years I made car
payments, I had to watch every penny. Sometimes I’d only have $30 extra
between paychecks. And if I ran out, I’d have to borrow lunch money.”
For Worker F, the most difficult aspect of life is the way he is treated
at work. “I get the feeling I’m looked down upon by those in upper
management.
“The head of our department can leave work early to play tennis. He
can come in late or take a long lunch. But if I ask to leave 15 minutes early
so I can pick up my car from the repair shop, I am refused. Management
makes my life very difficult.”

In the December 1992 issue of Spectrum (the university’s faculty/staff


newspaper), there was an article featuring two SCU women who had built
their own homes.[4] These full-time employees qualified for a low-income
family program that allowed them to build a home for themselves and their
families and use their labor as the down payment.

These personal examples indicate the struggle that consumes full-time


SCU employees at the lower wage ranks. Although they work 40 or more
hours per week, they can barely survive in Silicon Valley. In this high-cost,
high-tech world, they are the working poor, existing from paycheck to
paycheck.
Matching Institutional Action
To Institutional Rhetoric
“Whatever God does, the first outburst is always compassion.”
– Meister Eckhart

“Service, not power, is the coin of that realm which was God’s on earth.
The greater were to serve the lesser. The strong to serve the weak.” – Leo
Rock, S.J. in Making Friends With Yourself.

Liberation theology holds that if the world as we’ve structured it


makes victims – if it creates or perpetuates a class of poor for whom life is a
burden – it is the Christian’s duty to challenge and change those structures
and practices to ones that do not victimize or oppress.
In the tradition of Paulo Freire, I asked the six interviewees what the
university might do to make their lives easier. Her are their suggestions:

Group automobile insurance


On such small incomes, trying to save large amounts of money is
difficult. When automobile insurance premiums come due every six months,
the amount is so large ($300 to $800) that it becomes a stressful burden. If
the university could offer group rates with small, monthly paycheck
deductibles, it would be much easier for the low-aid employees.
As members of the Association of Independent California Colleges
and Universities, SCU qualifies for California Casualty’s preferred rate for
auto insurance. Perhaps the benefits people in Human Resource
Management could explore this possibility further, to see if employees could
pay premiums through automatic deductions from their paychecks.
Campus-wide barter system
Although low-paid employees have little discretionary income, they
do possess valuable skills. If they could trade their skills for needed services
– plumbing or car repairs – their lives would improve and, by paying the bill
with their own skills, they could maintain their dignity.
Some corporations have a database “bank” arrangement where the
skills of bartering parties are listed, and bank members deposit and
withdraw. For example: if I need an auto tune-up, a member who has banked
that skill will work on my car for two hours, and I will owe the bank two
hours of my bartered skill (writing or editing or whatever skills I’m
bartering). This kind of bartering system would require both a database
coordinator and a simple method (such as a bulletin board or Xeroxed flier)
of informing the campus that such a service is available.
It would take some time and effort to set up and coordinate such a
system, but the rewards for all who used it would be great. Perhaps this type
of program is in a similar category to SCAAP or Eastside Project (which the
university has been administering for years) and would be something
students could take part in. Perhaps students could earn part of their grant
money by managing such a bartering system.

Free lunches
Since the university guarantees Marriott’s a certain number of meals,
perhaps those which are “unbought” could go in a bank that hungry workers
could use. One or two lunches a week would save a significant amount in
the overburdened budgets of many of these employees. Other ideas for
establishing a “bank” of meals might include voluntarily contributing to a
“SCUpons” bank (as employees can now voluntarily contribute vacation
time to those who need it).
Or, perhaps, at the end of the fiscal year if there is money left in
departmental budgets, a portion of it could be contributed to the SCUpons
bank.
Bill Cooper, Marriott manager, suggested the Kenna Club sponsor a
social justice SCUpons for Santa Clara’s working poor. He also suggested
exchanging a lunch for mealtime work. “If the university could let one or
two leave their work to cater tables or serve meals, we could supply that
worker with lunch or dinner,” he said. “There are ways to work out such an
arrangement. It’s to no one’s benefit here to have people working while
they’re hungry.”

Weekend vacation
Jesuit retreat centers could be made available for weekend get-a-ways
for low-income families. These quiet places could give the working poor a
feeling of vacation once or twice a year. They would also provide a spiritual
environment that could strengthen family ties.
The Marianist Center in Cupertino charges $55 per person to stay on
their grounds. The fee covers one night’s lodging and three meals. Perhaps
board members, alumni or the Jesuit community would sponsor one or two
families a year for a weekend.
Villa Maria del Mar in Santa Cruz and San Joan Batista Retreat
Center charge about the same. However, they do not accept children. Some
of the older single workers might find a peaceful weekend get-a-way just
what they need for spiritual and emotional renewal.
Perhaps, as an employer, the university could sponsor a free family
retreat weekend once a year especially for the lowest paid workers.

More child care


As Kids on Campus expands its capacity from 21 to 35 children,
perhaps it could initiate a sliding scale for tuition costs, so that the working
poor could more easily afford its services. Or, perhaps those among
university employees least likely to afford day care could receive priority for
Kids on Campus openings.

Free parking
The university could provide free parking permits for the lowest paid
employees. Those at the high-end of the pay scale enjoy numerous perks.
Why not a perk or two for the working poor? Although $40 a year is a
minute amount for the university to forego, it represents a significant savings
on the small incomes earned by those in pay ranks 13-16.

Discount tickets for entertainment


Make low cost (or free) tickets available to such events as plays,
symphony, ballet, sports events, etc., so that working poor can afford to do
something special once or twice a year. For many campus events, a full
house would be welcome.

“The message of the human Jesus was that things are broken, but they will
be fixed and we are to be involved in making that happen; the reign of God
is to be realized now, and it is love that will bring it to fulfillment.”
-- Donald Ciffone in On the Brokenness of Creation.
As I have shared my concern for the working poor of Santa Clara University
with others on campus and have discussed the problems and possible ways
of making the lowest paid employees’ lives a little easier, additional
suggestions have been made. Here they are:

Coaching Camp
We could make Coaching Camp (for 9-13 year olds) available to the
children of SCU’s working poor. Perhaps a one-week campership for two or
three kids each summer. These kids have virtually no special or enriching
experiences to help make their summers enjoyable.
Tuition for a week is about $150. Perhaps board members, alumni or
the Jesuit community could sponsor one or two children each summer.
Andy Locatelli, who directs coaching camp, told me that occasionally
in the past the athletic department has accepted a few disadvantaged children
into the coaching camp at no charge. Surely we could do the same for one or
two children of low wage employees.

Project 50
We could reserve two or three places in Project 50 for the children of
SCU’s lowest paid workers. This excellent program helps disadvantaged
children learn about college as a possibility for their future. It would be an
excellent summer experience for the children of the university’s working
poor.
Airfare for funerals
For working poor who may need to attend a family funeral but have
no money for a plane ticket home, we could use “frequent flier” miles from
administrators who travel often.
Other corporations do this by writing into their travel policy that
frequent flyer certificates are co-property of the company and the traveler,
and can in certain extreme (or appropriate) circumstances be designated to
others because of family emergencies. Administrators and other frequent
fliers would have to agree to this, of course, but it is a possibility.
This can be done informally by simply asking administrators and
other frequent fliers to donate miles for those on campus who need them.

Career development
As a university, Santa Clara is a center of learning. We can offer our
expertise – education and training – to the working poor as part of their job,
to encourage professional growth and development, and to develop an ever-
improving workforce for the university.
At the start of each quarter, a list of classes could be sent to managers
and supervisors. The lists could be posted on work-area bulletin boards so
that employees could see what is available. The managers and supervisors
could also be encouraged to urge their workers to take classes which will
improve their work skills and/or develop new skills that could qualify them
for higher-paying jobs within the university.
At the beginning of each academic year, a memo could be sent to the
community saying that managers are encouraged to discuss available courses
with staff and to provide time for career development courses and classes.
A longer-term project to fine tune career development on campus
could start with a survey of campus job openings over the last five years. See
what jobs have been vacated, find out what skills those jobs require, and
then offer classes in those particular job skills to our staff employees.

Tutoring
Santa Clara can use existing programs to benefit the working poor.
While the Eastside Project serves the poor outside the campus, Santa Clara
can provide similar services to the poor within our campus community. For
example, we could provide tutoring through SCCAP for the children of the
working poor. Such tutoring could be extended to the employees,
themselves, if they suffer from poor English speaking or writing skills.
The university has a good track record of developing services for the
poor. That track record and those services can serve an equally important
purpose for the working poor within our own corporate community.

Using our economic power


SCU is an economic power. Can this power be used to serve the
university’s working poor?
Could the campus store buy clothing (especially children’s shoes), and
other necessities like soap or toothpaste, and sell the goods at cost to lower
paid employees? The university helps faculty and high paid administrators
buy homes, surely we can find a creative way to help lower paid employees
buy the necessities of life.
Could we organize a group purchasing program? A group of 12
families in Houston devised such a plan. Each of the families contributed $5
a week. One volunteer from the group would frequent farmer’s markets and
make bulk purchases of fruits and vegetables. Each of these large purchases
was divided into 12 parts and everyone went home with a basket of assorted
nutritious foods for about half the cost from the grocery. Perhaps we could
start something like this for the working poor on campus.
Could we use part of the produce from the proposed community
garden for the working poor?
Could we start a campus cooperative store with a board of directors
and student workers? Unlike the bookstore, such an establishment would not
be charged with making a profit, but rather, with providing the best prices
possible on consumer products, for Santa Clara employees.
Any of these ideas that would require organization and management
skills might make useful projects for students who receive grant money.
Students could be encouraged to take on projects that would benefit low paid
employees, and as with the Eastside Project, they could learn first-hand
about making social justice a reality.

Wage redirection
All of the suggestions so far have to do with establishing new ways of
doing things at Santa Clara University. Although there will certainly be costs
associated with these suggestions, none of the proposed solutions call for a
radical reallocation of funds to lighten the financial burden of SCU’s
working poor.
Liberation theology would suggest such a reallocation. Liberation
theology would ask for a radical – Christianized – financial structure where
those on the bottom do not suffer while those on the top enjoy luxury (in
liberation theology terms, “luxury” means more than is needed).
In these times of financial retrenchment, could the university ask top
wage earners to forego a 3 percent wage increase next year and redirect
those dollars to establishing some of the programs described in this action
plan?
There are 28 employees in pay scale ranks 24, 25 and 26. If we
assume an average salary of $100,000 for them, 3 percent would contribute
$84,000 for improving the lot of SCU’s working poor. Obviously, if the
average income of these high-paid individuals is less than $100,000, the
available funds would also be less. Whatever the actual figures, the
university asked top administrators once before to take a one-year wage
freeze. Ten staff members benefited from that freeze. This plan proposes to
benefit far more than ten workers.

Establish a base wage rate


As a Christian university with a strong commitment to social justice,
we may want to establish a base wage rate. Obviously, this base wage would
be the minimum needed to pay rent, buy food, clothing, health care and
transportation. No doubt, it would be related to the cost of living in Silicon
Valley. Working from this minimum wage, we could establish reasonable
pay rates for other jobs on campus.
Some universities have set their base wage rates for the lowest paid,
then established rates such as 155 percent of base for professors, 160 percent
of base for top administrators, etc. This is an idea that would have to be
custom fitted to SCU, but it deserves consideration, for our corporate
practices must coincide with our stated commitment to social justice.
We must ask ourselves how much we value the janitors, cooks, clerks,
secretaries and other low-paid employees. Like deans and vice presidents,
these people are committed to the university; they want to see Santa Clara U.
succeed. Their years of service reveal that these workers are as dedicated as
those who earn much more (and often stay fewer years on the payroll).
If we are indeed a family, if we believe in the dignity and worth of all
our workers, the institution needs to make social justice a priority for the
working poor among our employees.

“Jesus denounces injustice as the epitome of sin; he shows partiality toward


the oppressed, he unmasks alienating religious mechanisms. And he does all
this so that his spirit will not remain vague and his God the Father will not
remain abstract.” – Jon Sobrino, S.J. in Christology at the Crossroads.
How Santa Clara University can benefit
from incorporating social justice

“The theological questions have to do with the fundamental tension points


between the ‘is’ and the ‘ought’ of human live.” – Rosemary Radford
Ruether in Liberation Theology: Human Hope Confronts Christian History
and American Power

Obviously, incorporating principles of social justice in the structures


and practices of Santa Clara University not only requires time and effort, but
also a change in attitudes. The prevalent – non-Christian – attitude that those
who earn less are therefore less valuable, less important human beings, must
be changed.
If SCU, as an institution, can bring about the needed change in
attitudes and behaviors through altering current practices and instituting
more socially just structures and procedures, the payoffs could include:

Effective education through example


Action is a profound witness to truth. When the university removes
unjust practices and incorporates policies, which serve its lowest-paid
employees, its actions add eloquent power to its words.
In 1545 St. Ignatius of Loyola said, “It is a very right decision you
have made to train young people…that not only will they themselves turn
out to be good people but by the witness of their way of life be of service to
others.”
Santa Clara University’s “way of life” educates and trains its students,
faculty and staff day by day. Our corporate policies and practices speak
louder than our official statements.
When SCU practices justice and compassion toward its working poor,
it will educate its students through the power of its corporate example, not
just its rhetoric.

Recognition as a moral authority


The most evident payoff of creating a just community for the working
poor is that the university will be in fact a community of justice. The moral
authority flowing from such a community can make a powerful statement to
the larger world. And the education value of “being and doing” as compared
to stating a strong commitment, is priceless.

Increased morale and loyalty among employees


When our commitment is lived out in our policies, practices and
attitudes, and when that commitment results in less poverty and degradation
for low paid employees, the morale and loyalty of those workers is very
likely to increase. The benefits of employees with high morale and loyalty
are well documented.

National model, national reputation


Despite the broken, troubled world in which we live, and the
incorporation of evil into our institutional structures, there are many
individuals and institutions that want to practice social justice.
By incorporating social justice principles in the everyday working
reality of the university, Santa Clara can become a national leader, a national
model in the ethical treatment of employees.
By working to eradicate injustice from our institutional polices and
practices, SCU can be the moral equivalent of a “beacon on the hill.” Other
institutions will look to SCU for guidance in changing their own structures
to benefit the poor.

Positive Publicity
If Santa Clara University actually puts into practice these suggestions
and begins to shape a reality the principles of social justice lauded by so
many theorists, SCU could become the focal point for media reports on
social justice. Articles in such publications as Change and The Chronicle of
Higher Education, coverage by such TV shows as “60 Minutes” (CBS) or
“20/20” (NBC), to say nothing of newspaper and magazine coverage, would
make the name of Santa Clara University synonymous with leadership in
social justice.
The university could become a model for all kinds of institutions in
the equitable treatment of employees.
In the moral, ethical, social justice arenas as well as within the
employment realm, SCU could find itself out in front, the acknowledged
national leader.

In the words of Theologian Jon Sobrino, S.J., “Institutions that fight


evil are a miracle.”
SCU has the opportunity to become such a miracle by eradicating the
evil in its own structures and reducing the suffering of its own employees.
Notes:

[1] Gustavo Gutierrez, We Drink from Our Own Wells, (Orbis: New York,
1992) p. 12.

[2] Jon Sobrino, S.J., Christology at the Crossroads, (Orbis: New York,
1992) p. 393.

[3] “Paranoid in Los Altos,” an editorial published in the July 21, 1993, San
Jose Mercury News.

[4] “No place like home for the holidays,’ an article published in the
December 9, 1992, Santa Clara Spectrum.