In their second essay, WR 100 students revisit how Upton Sinclair’s 1905 novel The Jungle prompted a presidentially-directed investigation that confirmed his findings of immigrant exploitation in “Packingtown.” A century later, undercover documentaries of the modern meatpacking industry suggest that little has changed, though industry representatives counter that such employment constitutes economic opportunity for immigrant workers.
Students tested the industry’s assertion, drawing on competing government and industry statistics of worker injury. One fall day Sameer appeared in class having graphically plotted both sets of numbers to demonstrate the unreliability of industry-backed risk rates and a misleading representation of worker well-being. This essay represents his effort to enter the public “conversation” and to argue for change.
— MELANIE SMITH