CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – School spirit filled the air at the University of Miami Friday night as students celebrated Homecoming. Many of them stood, literally, with the new “U” monument in the grassy area across from the bookstore.
But in a lecture hall nearby, another group stood with Betty Asbury.
“For this to happen to me, I don’t understand why,” Asbury said of her recent termination.
The woman affectionately known to students as “Miss Betty” was fired from her job as a cashier at the Hecht/Stanford Dining Hall October 10th.
A man walked past her without paying the required $6.80 for breakfast, she said.
According to Asbury, she did not see the man as she was ringing up another customer.
“I said please, I made a human mistake by overlooking someone and letting them in,” Asbury said.
But Chartwells, the food service company that employs her, didn’t budge.
CBS 4 News contacted Chartwells’ corporate office during business hours Friday. When we asked specifically about Asbury’s case, we were told someone would be calling us back. The company never responded.
Asbury said she was terminated despite her previously spotless record.
Her most recent performance evaluation resulted in a raise, she said.
Now she is scrambling to make ends meet.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to lose my home,” Asbury said. “Nobody’s hiring.”
Students have stepped up to show their support for Asbury. Many shared fond memories of the cashier whose son, Brian, attended UM and played basketball.
“She always has a smile on her face. She’s always complimenting me, asking me how I’m doing,” freshman Katelynne Storey said.
“She really does make me feel like this place is a home,” Nick Swyter explained. “Even though there are countless students at the university, she took her time to make a special relationship with every one of them”
Grad Student Philipp Schwind started a Facebook page and created a Change.org petition to have Miss Betty reinstated.
As of Friday night, more than 1,800 people were on board.
“When I learned what happened to Miss Betty, I couldn’t believe it,” Schwind said. “It’s simply unfair.”
His group, Students for a New Democracy, has spoken out against Chartwells in the past, citing the fact that Chartwells employees work “at-will” and can be terminated at any time without cause.
“Workers are standing up to form a union,” Schwind said. “And we support them. We think that is the only true solution to the problem.”
While the students say the issue is about more than just Miss Betty, she’s grateful they’re standing by her.
“I am overwhelmed,” Asbury said. “The love and support I have from them. I love them.”
Students plan to present a stack of petitions to Chartwells executives next week.