Apropos the New York Times story
today about the wages of struggling workers at Vanderbilt, a letter from a Vanderbilt alum is being circulated to Chancellor Gordon Gee and other alumni urging the education giant to do better by its employees.
As a Vanderbilt alum, this is embarrassing. Why should I give any money to the university when it won't pay its hardest-working workers a decent wage? In light of the $6M renovation of your home, it is not as if there is not enough money to go around. I question whether alumni contributions are being properly allocated to fulfill Vanderbilt's mission. How this situation ever got out of hand such that it would even make it to the NY Times is appalling. I'm sure you will agree with me that Vanderbilt does not have a plantation-mentality and has no intention of perpetuating this view. The NY Times article, however, does nothing to dispel this notion for the rest of the nation. I'm proud to have graduated from this University, but this is not a proud day in Vanderbilt's history or for your administration.
Please, no more corporate double-speak about the "almost infinite number of decisions about how to expend resources" that is Vanderbilt's excuse for why the housekeepers, gardeners, etc. should not be paid more. It is wholly unconvincing and lacks credibility and sincerity. The solution to this fiasco should be apparent but inexplicably has yet to occur -- Vanderbilt should pay these workers a decent wage by increasing their wages to meet or exceed the national average. Given that you are the 3rd highest paid university president in the nation, I think a comparable adjustment to these workers' pay is sensible - put them at the top 3% of the national hourly wage scale for their positions. Alternatively, perhaps Alumni Relations can start a Low-Wage Workers Fund so I and similarly concerned alumni can direct our alumni contributions directly to these workers to supplement their income.
On a final note, I'm suspending any current and future giving to the university until significant progress is made in this area, and I hope my fellow alums will do the same and/or voice their comments to you and the administration.
Fellow alums, feel free to pass this email along to other Vandy alums.