Sean Arent is a senior in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, city liaison for the Associated Students of the University of Washington Tacoma and president of the Progressive Student Union and Young Democratic Socialists of America on campus. Arent was one of the students who assisted in creating a petition to continue paying UW Tacoma student employees during the COVID-19 outbreak and pay lost wages.
In spreading the word and championing the cause to ensure student workers were to receive pay, Arent worked alongside Stacy Fernandez, the senior coordinator for the Center for Student Involvement and president of the Student Social Work Organization. Together, they created the petition for UWT to pay the students who are unable to telework and give back pay for student workers who have missed work so far. The petition was shared during Chancellor Mark Pagano’s virtual town hall meeting on Mar. 19 but received little response.
“UW Tacoma isn’t just where we go to school, it’s a boss for a lot of people, with all the problems that all other anti-union employers have, namely an undemocratic structure,” Arent said.
During the town hall, Arent asked if students who were unable to work remotely are to be laid off and did not receive an immediate answer, but according to Arent, it should be answered soon. However, Pagano insisted they are doing what they can to set up remote work options.
Last year, Arent aided in the creation of the Progressive Student Union and serves as the club’s president. Back then, there were around six members but the group has since then grown to around thirty. PSU strives to assess the issues on and off campus and brainstorm possible solutions. According to their Facebook page, this is one of their current issues.
With the quarter being entirely online, Arent sees possible new challenges being presented. Arent has suggested that leniency on both ends, students and faculty, could help to make the quarter easier for everyone. He also recommends that students stick to a schedule the best they can and set alarms or reminders to keep them on track and succeed for the quarter. Above all, students need to be there for each other through all of this.
“All I can say is that when it’s everyone for themselves, we run out of toilet paper,” Arent said. “But when we work together, organize, and help each other, we get people bringing groceries to each other, a rent freeze and we all make it through this.”