The grilled cheese sale took place in the DeHority lobby on Friday, Oct. 16 from 8 to12 pm. It doubled as an educational opportunity for residents and a fundraiser for the RAs' upcoming retreat.
“We wanted to create conversation, have it be a learning thing,” Asa McCormick, a DeHority RA who helped to run the sale, said. “It’s our job to teach.”
Awareness was the main inspiration behind the event.
“The issue [the wage gap between men and women] is something that tends to get put on the back burner,” DeHority RA Abe , who came up with the idea for the event, said. “It’s been this way for so long people don’t really think about it, or they think there’s nothing else that can be done, or that needs to be done for that matter.”
“People are aware of certain issues, but they tend to miss the real world things that go along with it,” McCormick said. “It’s 2015 and people don’t realize this [pay inequality] is still happening.”
About a week before the sale, fliers went up on DeHority resident’s doors to advertise the event. They simply stated:
“Love grilled cheese?! Grilled cheese sale. Females: $0.75. Males: $1.00."
The lack of information on the fliers raised some questions amongst residents.
“The vagueness of the posters was definitely intended,” McCormick said. “We wanted that shock factor, to turn it into something that was in their faces. The intent was not to be subtle, it was that they would read the flyer and immediately realize the pricing was totally wrong. It got people talking, which is what our goal was.”
After the flyers went up, discussion spread across the residence hall.
“I overheard some of my residents discussing it in the hallway, two guys and two girls,” DeHority RA Jenna Morris said. “I asked them what they thought and the girls were actually more mad. They just wanted to be treated equally, not specially. The guys didn’t really care.”
The feeling that the lessened price was, in a way, a gesture of pity was shared by Sophomore Alyssa Williams, a DeHority resident who bought a sandwich at the grilled cheese sale.
“When I first saw it, it made me mad because it was like they weren’t going to accept my full dollar because I’m a woman,” Williams said. “I want to give my whole dollar; I want to be equal.”
After the intentions of the event were clarified in Residence Hall director, Bart Upah’s weekly email, opinions changed a bit.
“My female residents were coming up and giving me high-fives. They were thanking me for bringing the issue to light,” McCormick said.
In fact, females turned out to support the sale in higher numbers than male residents. At least one male resident even refused to stop by the table, claiming he only had $0.75.
“That’s how it really is in the work force, that’s the truth behind how women get paid compared to men, so theoretically that’s how things should be sold,” Robinson said.
The night of the sale, every sandwich that was delivered came with a slip of paper with an even more detailed description of the event. It read as follows:
“Gender pay gap is simply the difference between male and female earnings, expressed in percentages. For every $1 a male makes, a female only makes 78%, or approximately $0.78. The gap is wider among younger employees, among nearly every industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in 2013, female full-time workers had median weekly earnings of $706, compared to men’s median weekly earnings of $860. The most effective way to help close this gap is to get informed, and spread the word.”
In the end, The RAs were excited with how the event turned out and the discussions it created.
“I’m thankful for all the support we’ve gotten and that I’ve gotten to talk with some many different residents about this topic,” McCormick said.
“I loved it,” Will Leonard, a DeHority RA, said. “I think it was a great way to bring the subject up, and I hope the conversation continues.”
Additional programs similar to the grilled cheese sale may be coming from the DeHority RAs in the future.
“There’s so many controversial topics for us to get to, such as race inequality,” McCormick said. “And of course we’re always looking for suggestions from the residents. We’re here for them.”
And if you’re wondering what the RAs magical grilled cheese recipe is, McCormick shared that as well.
“Bread, butter, and wonderful Kraft American singles,” he said.