Re: Working for love.

Naomi Gold (
Tue, 31 Mar 1998 21:58:24 -0500 (EST)

> Naomi Gold wrote:
> >
> > No one has yet told me how staff actually support themselves financially
> > during the first year without a salary.
> Naomi,

> They don't....not for wages of $11,000 per annum or anywhere near that
> amount. I find this topic of working for love to be bizarre. The
> implication is if you don't make as much money, you are doing it for
> love. That may be the case...then again, maybe not. Where do self
> respect and self-love come into the picture? Service to others is
> important and it should and can be rewarded fairly with a living wage.
> Marty Perkins
> Fairhaven School

Or at the very least, the school should be trying harder to acquire the
means to compensate its staff. And it is, as one or more list members
have pointed out, a MORAL issue. There is a moral issue involved in taking
people's labour without compensating for it. What I find extraordinary,
or bizarre as you put it, is that SVS feels ENTITLED to people's FREE
LABOUR. And they get it because the school is such a unique and
worthwhile place. There is a sense that if you want to be there, you have
to prove yourself worthy by, among other things, being willing to work for
free. This is exploitation, pure and simple. SVS has been around for a
while. It's not a new school. Presumably it engages in fund-raising.
The moral issue is less acute in a school which is new, but for SVS to pay
nothing to first-year staff as a matter of principle is, as you put it,

And again let me say that this state of affairs produces a situation in
which only relatively privileged people can participate as staff, i.e.
people who have working spouses. Since SVS doesn't seem to be hurting for
staff (judging from information given in other posts), it doesn't have to
question the ethics of this policy. This is, as I've said before, an
attitude akin to the worst corporate attitude: "We don't need to treat
staff justly because there are PLENTY of people willing to take these

(Note to an earlier post: I HAVE read "Free at Last," but I was so busy
grooving on all the wonderful ideas/stories in it that I missed the part
about first-year staff not being paid.)

So, to not pay people because the money just isn't available is one thing,
and I am fully empathic with the idea that SVS-type schools are so worthy
of time and dedication that someone would forego a salary to be part of
one (as, indeed, one list member described). But to not pay people as a
matter of principle is immoral.