Social Work Students Surprise Legislators with a 'Raise the Wage' Flash Mob

Students, faculty and staff from the St. Catherine University and University of St. Thomas School of Social Work surprised legislators and visitors in the state Capitol rotunda Thursday, Feb. 27, with a flash mob to bring awareness to the need to raise the minimum wage.

Organizer and School of Social Work undergraduate student Caitlyn Wright, who is also an intern at A Minnesota Without Poverty, wanted to do something energetic and fun to bring attention to a serious cause.

"Sometimes advocacy can be a big, serious and intimidating word. It's nice to show people just how easy, fun and engaging it can be," Wright said. "A flash mob fit really well with A Minnesota Without Poverty's strategy to use humor and fun to talk about more serious issues."

According to Wright, about 50 participants joined in the surprise dance routine. She estimated that about 25 other supporters were present who wore the same T-shirt, which read "Ketchup to the Cost of Living – Raise the Minimum Wage" and resembled the Heinz ketchup bottle design.

Wright was pleased with the turnout. "At one point, I'd made my peace with doing the dance myself in the rotunda. It was frigid cold that day, and there had been a storm a few days before that left roads in terrible condition," she said. "The turnout we had was amazing. It showed a lot of dedication."

The spectacle captured the attention of writer Cynthia Boyd, who published a column about the performance.

Wright also was encouraged by the support she received from not only her fellow students but also staff and instructors. School of Social Work faculty member Sarah Ferguson, who attended the performance, said, "Any time students and faculty can work together on social justice is a win. I think it's important for students to see their faculty participating in social actions we teach about in the classroom. It makes the curriculum real and accessible. It was also just a lot of fun!"