November 18, 2015

Interview with Sidney Harris, member of IU's Black Student Union

Sidney Harris is a Sociology Major and a member of IU’s chapter of Black Student Union. 

How did you get involved with this year’s Themester theme?

I was recommended and asked to apply to be a themester committee advisor by Professor Alex Lichenstein. So I applied and was chosen!

How did you come to select Barber and Trumka/what was your process for organizing the event?

The program was essentially the dream child of Ben Robinson and I took a special interest in the topic as I have a heart for social justice issues in particular racial equality and justice issues. Selecting Barber and Trumka was the easiest tasks required of the event, because they are two of the most influential men currently in the labor and racial equality and justice arenas, from there it was just a matter of getting everything logistically set up and organized.

What do you hope students will take away from the event?

I hope that students took away from the event that the issues of labor and race are not mutually exclusive but are intrinsically intertwined. I hope that they were able to see the urgency and relevance of these issues as national moral issues that demand our attention and action. finally I hope that they were able to see the ways in which they could affect change or at least become more knowledgeable about these issues that directly effect each and every one of us.

What does labor mean to you? 

Labor translates directly to opportunity and power. The ways in which we as individuals as well as the collective are able to have agency and control over our bodies and labor is the key to democratic freedom, and so to me labor equates to the measure of freedom in a nation. The opportunity for fair, equal, and just labor is something that in my opinion is spiritually and biblically necessary and required at all times, and to give anything less than that is an injustice against humanity. So labor has major implications that manifest in all of our daily lives, therefore something to be taken extremely seriously.

You can watch the Barber / Trumka discussion "Labor and Civil Rights: Bold Legacies and New Directions" here

Alexander Zorn 
2015 Intern

November 9, 2015

Drug War Capitalism and Nicholas Greven

Nicholas Greven, a undergraduate student coordinated the "Drug War Capitalism" videoconference that brought people from around the world to debate issues of labor 
within the illegal drug trade. 

What interested you in making the "Drug War Capitalism" event in connection with the Themester? 
The event was made in connection with Themester because it dealt with how labor is
controlled and coerced through the war on drugs.

How do you think your Themester event went? 
It went well, there was lots of good discussion and connections made.

What was the audiences reactions to the panels? 
The audience found the panels very poignant and informative.

What are the direct connections to the issue of labor and work? 
It dealt a lot with undocumented immigration, and such immigrants make up a lot 
of the labor force. It also dealt a lot with prisons and police, which often function 
as mechanisms of labor coercion or incapacitation.

By: Allison Larmann, 2015 Themester Intern

November 8, 2015

Global Problem, Local Solution

Stepanka Korytova was interviewed about her I300 class's upcoming presentation on their research and projects on fair labor.

How are you envisioning this panel to go? 

I think it will be somewhat of a reaction to earlier projects that my earlier I300 classes have done, before interacted with the managers with the Bloomington Human Rights Commission but they have taken a new direction. So the students are doing group projects, some are talking to employees of the restaurants, so that the project is credible. One group is setting up a Facebook page to raise awareness for the Fair Labor Initiative. Some students did independent projects, one is a journalism major who wrote an op-ed piece on the project. Global problem, local solution is sort of the theme of the class so that … There are students who are showing a documentary to different student groups and then giving them a survey on how much was known before and how much was learned. There was a lot of fieldwork done by the students. There will also be an explanation in the beginning of what human trafficking and labor rights are.

How many people do you have in your class?
We have 30 people. People have been taking notice there has been three articles in Bloom Magazine on fair labor since my students have started these projects.

Jessica Rodriguez, a sophomore International Studies student in I300 was asked about her role in the project.
I interviewed restaurant workers it was pretty interesting. Half of them had no issues but the other half had experienced a variety of things, almost all of them under the radar. They were asked what their idea of fair labor was and then how they were treated specifically. The worst instance was that one of the interviewees was told to stay and scrub the floor and then never paid for it. There was nothing specific that has not been publicized before.

Alexa Blanton, an I300 student was also asked about her role.
My group created community outreach flyers with information about fair labor standards initiative they include coupons with three member restaurants the Bloomington Sandwich Company, Baked and the Runcible Spoon.

"A Global Problem, a Local Solution," a student panel discussion on fair trade
Join students from Dr. Stepanka Korytova's International Studies course, INTL-I 300 Global Human Trafficking, in a discussion on fair labor in Bloomington, IN .
Start: Monday November 09, 2015 04:00 PM
End: Monday November 09, 2015 05:30 PM
Location: Wylie 015

By: Allison Larmann, 2015 Themester Intern

October 19, 2015

IU Art Museum Student Docents @ Work to Display Pieces Surrounding Labor.

For this post Themester interviewed Hanwen Fan a sophomore Hutton Honors College Student Docent who gives tours on the Themester show “@ Work” at the IU Art Museum going on this semester. 
That is your role as a Hutton Honors College Student Docent?
My main project is to give a tour to the guests of the IU Art Museum’s show “@ Work” and to provide them more knowledge and information about works of art that were chosen to go along with the main theme of labor.  We relate different paintings to this one topic from all of the art museum’s areas different areas; especially the Chinese, Pacific, African, Egyptian and Western pieces of art.
There are 20-30 Student Docents that work throughout the year.  Docents mainly work together, I am the first shift and give information in the 4 or 5 on the Western level with my partner. I work the IUAM Coffeehouse Night and it focuses mainly on the first floor exhibit. Some docents give a tour of the entire exhibit that is spread out throughout the entire museum. In training we learn about all of the paintings that pertain to the exhibit.  We also show the paintings to art classes and hold the discussion section about the works.

How are people's reactions?
Yeah I think people really like the show “@Work” when I tell them the information on the background of the paintings they are very surprised. Sometimes the things I point out they have said that they would have never thought about. My friends have even said that they would never have known any of the information about the works of art if I had not shared it. I think it is very interesting tour, my econ professor even came to see the event.

Are there a wide variety of people that come to the IU Coffeehouse?
Yeah lots of different people come; my friends, professors and many other people
I am a History and Economics major I really like this topic and that they care about the different sections of the labor force. I am currently in a class about the 1940s-1970s and I can relate this information to that class which is really cool.

Allison Larmann 
2015 Intern 

October 18, 2015

Interview with Ryann Seifers, Themester's Discussion Host

Ryann Seifers is a Senior in the College of Arts and Sciences with a Major in Anthropology and Themester's Discussion Host.

How did you get involved in this year’s Themester?
After attending Themester events last year, I was inspired to be more involved with the unique program. I love that Themester reaches across a broad range of interests and tosses them all together to share their perspectives on one topic.

What exactly is Dessert and Discussion?
Dessert and Discussion is a place where undergraduates and faculty interact to discuss the Themester topic. The informal conversation coupled with the wonderful dessert creates an environment where attendees can ask questions and express their opinions.

What is your process in picking (faculty) guests for Dessert and Discussion?
I look for faculty who are teaching Themester classes, because I know they are interested in the topic, then start crafting emails in an attempt to express how appealing Dessert and Discussion is.

What do you hope students will take away from Dessert and Discussion?
Every Dessert and Discussion presents the opportunity to make a new connection, whether it is to a peer or a faculty member, as well as exposing attendees to the perspectives of others during an interactive conversation.

What does labor mean to you?
The word labor has a negative connotation, and it tends to be something that people see as separate from their personal life. To me, labor signifies 'things' which need to be done, from household chores to going to a shift to writing a research paper, because all of this work is necessary for me to get from one week to the next. As I age, my idea of work and labor will change, but for now it is something I do as I aspire to reach a point where leisure and labor are one in a career which is entertaining for me.

What was your first job?

My first 'real' job was working at IU's SRSC as an Informal Sports Supervisor.

Alexander Zorn
2015 Intern