We are profoundly privileged as Wittenberg students. We receive an exceptional education from an amazing faculty at this school. We also tend to live inside our Wittenberg bubble; we forget that not everyone is as lucky as we are.
It isn’t difficult to understand why; we, as students, have a lot in common.
Many of us took advanced classes in high school, got good grades, were involved in community service, participated in extracurricular activities, had jobs or internships, and, in general, did everything right to get to this point in our lives.
As children, our role models told us that in America, if you work hard, you can become anyone and do anything.
It is a profound and beautiful idea, and we pursued it.
I know so many of you who are amazingly talented, intelligent and gifted; we should all be proud of our successes.
We deserve to be proud, but we should also be honest.
Many of us are here because we were set up to succeed. Our family members had extra time to tutor us after school. They pushed us to join clubs and work as hard as we could. When the time came, they taught us how to write a resume and where to look for jobs and internships. We still had to work hard, but our families laid a solid foundation for us to begin our lives and have been there to support us on our journeys.
If success is a ladder, then many of us had a leg up.
Raising the minimum wage would allow more people that opportunity.
High school students working minimum wage would have more money to put towards college, adults working minimum wage jobs would be able to provide a higher standard of living for their children, and adults working minimum wage jobs would be able to afford childcare services.
We can make the American dream real if we recognize that everyone deserves to be valued. In a country that is so rich, no one should have to be hungry or struggle to meet basic needs.
We have no more right to the American dream than those who maintain our campus and make life at Wittenberg possible. To believe otherwise is to go against the basic principles of a liberal arts education.
Henry Ford, titan of American industry, famously paid his workers above market wage.
“Paying good wages is not charity at all — it is the best kind of business,” Ford reminds us.
Wittenberg students graduate poised to take on the world. We will be leading scientists, accomplished artists, and even politicians. We will be responsible for ensuring that the first rungs on the ladder of success are accessible to everyone.
“Having light, we pass it on to others.”