May 2, 2003

Ho Plaza Obstacle Course Commemorates May Day

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Yesterday afternoon, Cornell Organization for Labor Action (COLA) held a “workers’ challenge” obstacle course on Ho Plaza. The event, also sponsored by the Farm Workers’ Advocacy Group and United Students versus Sweatshops, ran for two hours.

The event commemorated May Day, a “working class holiday developed from the U.S. workers’ struggle for the eight-hour day in 1886,” COLA explained in their information sheet.

The aim of the activity was to raise awareness of the difficulties in the efforts of the many different worker groups, explained COLA member Tomer Malchi ’03.

“Each stage of the workers’ challenge is mimicking something the workers around here do,” said Iris Packman ’06, a member of COLA.

The participants were racing the clock to complete four tasks of the obstacle course.

The first task required putting a pillowcase on a pillow, to represent the work of the hotel workers. The second involved sweeping around about six pairs of shoes spread out across the Ho Plaza walkway to represent custodial work. The organizers of the event chose this task because one of the most common complaints from Cornell custodians is that they have difficulty cleaning the dorms with all of the students’ shoes lying in the hallways.

The third leg of the course was placing papers in alphabetical order to illustrate the work of teaching assistants while the fourth task involved transporting fruit and soil to different locations, to demonstrate the labor of farm workers.

“A lot of people don’t realize there are farm workers in our backyard