From our readers

A living wage?

Found the story on Prop D regarding raising the minimum wage interesting. And I congratulate all those who got involved to make it happen. However, the minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage. It really was mostly to allow unskilled workers, (usually) kids living at home, to get a menial job at a restaurant, warehouse, farm or whatever to learn about working—or in some cases to learn a valuable skill that would then move them up, or at least give them a taste of what working is truly like: being on time, finding that you have to work overtime, what a boss really is. So while I congratulate you, I caution that there will be far fewer entry-level jobs open to kids because of this. —Francis (Scotty) Anderson, ’72 Public Relations

We asked SJSU Professor of Sociology Scott Myers-Lipton for his take on this issue. —Ed.

In response to Francis (Scotty) Anderson’s point that minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage and was generally for kids, a 2012 U.S. Department of Labor report found that 76 percent of minimum wage workers are 20 years and older. As for a living wage, Measure D supporters believe that if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve a fair wage. The SJSU students who started the campaign didn’t think $8 an hour was fair because a person living in Silicon Valley can’t pay for food, gas, rent and other basic necessities on this wage. Also, minimum wage had not gone up since 2008, while prices continued to rise on everything else, including tuition, which had gone up 141 percent. The students’ response was to ask for a reasonable increase in the minimum wage, and 60 percent of the voters agreed with them this past November.

Friends remembered

I am the first black/African-American to receive a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from San José State. I am the president and founder of Comprehensive Planning Consultants in Jackson, Mississippi. However, my main concern is that San José State has failed to recognize one of its greatest track stars, Mr. Ronnie Ray Smith. He ran track during the 1968 Olympics with John Carlos and Tommie Smith. I was recently informed that Ronnie Ray passed away in Los Angeles. He was a very close friend of mine, as well as all of my Omega Psi Phi Fraternity brothers and other black students during the late 1960s and early 1970s. San José State should give Ronnie Ray Smith the same type of recognition that has been given to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Ronnie Ray just didn’t wear a black glove. That’s not taking anything away from Carlos and Smith. It’s just giving equal share to a man who accomplished the same victory. —James A. “Lap” Baker, ’72 MA Urban and Regional Planning

Thank you very much for publishing this magazine. I read it cover to cover and find it very refreshing and informative. I especially read the alumni obituaries to keep track of my past friends and profs. You are doing an outstanding job. —Mauro A. Valcazar, ’58 Music

Spartans make a difference

What a wonderful issue. I am taking away from the (Spring 2013) issue an assignment to make a difference. Cover to cover: teachers we love, how to thrive even when you have a terminal illness. And then my favorite: the first person account by JP Tran—it matters! Thank you! —Katherine Pool, ’80, ’87 MPA

I read Carol Dale’s story with interest. I went into Peace Corps in Honduras in 1982 and ended up staying in Honduras for 17 years. It is a wonderful country with beautiful people, and it changes the lives of those fortunate enough to step foot on her shores. I encourage anyone whose situation permits it to volunteer overseas and, if you are fortunate enough, you may find yourself in a country as special as Honduras. —Raymond Dodd, ’81 Environmental Studies, ’87 MS Mass Communication

We want to hear from you!

Washington Square welcomes letters to the editor regarding campus issues and the stories in its pages. Letters accepted for publication may be edited for clarity or space, and may not necessarily reflect the views of San José State.

Send us an email, submit a query, story idea or alumni update, or send a note via snail mail to:

WSQ Editor
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192-0258

Jody Ulate

Jody Ulate, '05 MA English, is editor of the Washington Square blog and printed alumni magazine.

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