Of Janitors with Integrity, Protesters Without, and the Met Gala

Mariano Torres, a night janitor (or environmental services employee in modern parlance) in Hamilton Hall at Columbia University, was just doing his job on the third floor.  He heard a ruckus coming from the first floor but continued to do his job because he figured it was encampment nonsense.

Suddenly five or six protesters were bringing chairs into the stairway.  He asked them to stop and even tried to block them.  Behind his scarf-covered face one protester told Mr. Torres to get out of the way because “This is bigger than you.”

One of the masked protesters tried to hand him a fistful of cash, but Mr. Torres responded, “I don’t want your money, dude.  Just get out of the building.” Despite his calls and those of his two co-workers, police would not arrive for 20 hours.  There had been only one Columbia security officer at the building and he just “let it happen.”  Sharon Ottoman, “3 Columbia Workers Recount Fearful Time Trapped in Hall,” New York Times, May 9, 2024, p. A1.

In this incident we witness the arrogance of the protesters — what they were doing was more important than a janitor just trying to do his job.  And they tried to pay Mr. Torres off, but he was having none of it.  A “better than thou attitude” coupled with corruption techniques.  What a charming and dangerous combination.

Bless Mr. Torres and his colleagues for  moral clarity and steadfastness.

By contrast, the police were out in full force and the protesters not so when celebrities dressed as Star Wars characters showed up for the Met Gala. Their event sallied forth, hassle-free. They strutted, they hobbled due to clothing and footwear choices, and they preened for the cameras. No protesters raining on their animal-vegetable-mineral parade.  “Let the janitors eat nothing,” was their arrogant mantra.  Funny how class warfare really works — the elite students and professional protesters with cash pick on the  janitors.  But media icons are immune untouchables — because the Met Gala crowd and protesters  are on  the same level — classless.


About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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