Dozens of students marched across campus this afternoon to support 1835 Hinman dining hall worker Rafael Marquez.
Marquez, who has worked at Northwestern for nearly a decade, was suspended last Friday after speaking up for another worker. According to the event page on Facebook, management told the other worker she was being too slow, when in reality she had been over-worked. Marquez spoke up in support of his co-worker, saying management needed to equally distribute work hours.
Management told Marquez to stay quiet or they would call campus police. Marquez was then forced to work during his break. He set up a meeting with Human Resources to discuss the incident, but after that meeting, Marquez was suspended for being “over-excited” and under the influence.
A group of students who grew close with Marquez quickly came together to organize a show of solidarity. The aim of today’s gathering was for students to voice their support for Marquez and all campus workers.
“Management always wants to take away the voice of the worker,” Marquez said. “They have no regard for my well-being or for my right to stand up for my co-workers or for myself.”
After gathering at Weber Arch around 2 p.m., students cheered in support as Marquez joined the crowd. The students marched down Sheridan Road, chanting such phrases as, “Support our workers!” and “Ain’t no power like the power of the people!” The march ended at Sargent, where Marquez turned in a statement to SodexoUSA. Included in his materials were statements from many students and co-workers conveying how much Marquez means to the Northwestern community.
“Since I’ve been here for ten years, I’m not just a food service worker,” Marquez said. “I have become a friend and a member of the community. I always talk to the students and have built relationships with them.”
Marquez said he felt proud of the students who rallied behind him on such short notice.
“I’m overwhelmed and amazed,” Marquez said. “I feel like the real people that I work for are the students because they are the only ones that really show that they care. They didn’t want me walking alone in the dungeon with the dragon.”
Sodexo will notify Marquez this Friday regarding the status of his employment.