To Chartwells, Betty Asbury was just a worker. But to University of Miami students, she is more than that.
Known to most as “Miss Betty,” Asbury spent two years swiping Cane Cards at the Hecht/Stanford Dining Hall. Students respected her. Students cared for her. Chartwells fired her.
On Oct. 9, Miss Betty was working as usual when a man walked into the dining hall without paying. He didn’t eat. He just needed to use the restroom.
On a normal day, this wouldn’t have been such an issue. But this time, a manager witnessed the incident, and Miss Betty didn’t stop the man from walking through. Because of this slip up, she was terminated the next day.
Although letting any individual into the dining hall without paying is not allowed, it was an honest mistake – and Miss Betty’s first misstep on the job.
In August, Chartwells gave Miss Betty a raise for her superior evaluation results and work ethic, but that wasn’t on Chartwells’ mind when the company fired her. It wasn’t even considered when Miss Betty tried to appeal the decision. The Chartwells resident district manager gave her a definitive “no.”
When students heard Miss Betty would no longer be greeting them before each meal, many were enraged. One student started a petition and, as of now, it has more than 1,000 signatures.
Chartwells was technically allowed to fire Miss Betty because their workers are “at-will employees.” This means they can be fired at any time, without any notice.
However, in 2007, former Vice President for Business Services Alan Fish set a precedent: Chartwells employees must be given three warnings before being terminated.
In Miss Betty’s case, she didn’t even receive one.
Though this precedent wasn’t set in stone, UM’s core values should reflect it. The university prides itself on treating everyone justly, but Miss Betty was an exception to this moral standard. Being fired for such a dismal reason may be justified to Chartwells, but that doesn’t make it fair.
Miss Betty needs our support and we’re here to give it to her. Students, you can too. Even if Chartwells doesn’t reinstate her, although they have done so for other employees in the past, organizing for Miss Betty is an action that is worth more than words.
Chartwells can fire her, but students will continue to stand behind her.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.
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