After 10 minutes of trying to persuade 20 undergrads to end their occupation of athletic director Scott Woodward's office, University of Washington police chief John Vinson decided to raise the pressure. When the building closed in another hour or so, he explained, they could choose to leave or be arrested.

"All that's going to do is create unnecessary legal conditions for you guys," Vinson warned protest leaders Alix Goldstein and Garrett Strain. "As you guys start moving forward to your graduation," he continued, attempting to provoke as much anxiety as possible, "you start looking for jobs: 'Have you been arrested?' 'Yes.' 'For what?' And that could be the difference."

That's a scenario that would surely give most college students pause, particularly in this uncertain job market. Yet a couple hours later, Goldstein, Strain, and 11 other students chose to be arrested, bringing to 40 the total number of arrests at the UW over the past week in sit-ins protesting the $3.4 million Husky Stadium concessions contract with food-services giant Sodexo.

All that tumult over some overpriced hot dogs? Not exactly. Last year, Sodexo was cited by Human Rights Watch and Trans­Africa for a pattern of human rights abuses worldwide, including worker harassment, racial discrimination, forced pregnancy tests, unsafe workplace conditions, unpaid wages, and retaliation for union organizing (allegations Sodexo has denied as "unproven claims" and a "smear campaign"). Reports of these abuses inspired a coordinated campaign across college campuses nationwide, seeking to force Sodexo to reform its business practices by pressuring university administrators to cancel their food services and concessions contracts. And it's starting to work.

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Last week, after seven months of student protests, Western Washington University ended its 50-year relationship with Sodexo, canceling a $150 million contract that leaves the UW the last remaining public university in the state still doing business with the company. And in a further sign the campaign is working, Sodexo representatives have finally agreed to meet with UW protest leaders, marking the first time they've done so on any university campus.

"It's not like we want to get arrested," sit-in spokeswoman Katy Lundgren, a UW sophomore, told me just hours before her own arrest. "We just want our university to be a socially responsible institution." And once they accomplish that, here's hoping they turn their newfound activism toward pressuring the legislature into making the UW a responsibly funded institution. recommended