YCC seeks to improve student-worker relations

The Yale College Council unanimously approved a proposal by the Community Committee Wednesday to hold events in which students and Yale workers can interact with one another in a social setting.

The project, tentatively called “One Yale,” mentions a variety of possible events, ranging from holiday parties to a three-on-three basketball tournament.

YCC representative Daniel Weeks ’06 said the proposal aims at rebuilding the Yale community a three-week strike this fall by Yale’s two largest unions, locals 34 and 35. Weeks said though the strike ended on Sept. 18, the community has not necessarily been completely repaired.

“Even though on paper the [strike] had been resolved, we felt that the fact that this had taken as many months as it had suggested there were deeper issues to be resolved,” Weeks said. “And so the incentive is simply to build a stronger community in non-political ways. My hope is that all the parties involved will simply see this as a mutual opportunity to gain understanding.”

YCC Community Committee chairman Christopher Wells ’06 said the proposal is not intended to be partisan and is not an endorsement of the unions or the strike. Wells stressed that the focus is community building.

“It’s just simply to acknowledge the folks who make such a University community possible,” Wells said.

Weeks said he does not expect the events to change anyone’s opinions about the strike.

“It would be presumptuous of us to think we can solve any lack of understanding at Yale,” Weeks said.

Wells said he has spoken with dining hall managers to get their advice on how to implement the project. Weeks said he has contacted residential college councils to try to coordinate events with them.

Saybrook College Council member Maren Ludwig ’05 said the YCC contacted the SCC before voting on the proposal. She said the SCC discussed the plan at a Monday meeting. Ludwig said she thought it might be “presumptuous” to assume workers would want to spend their free time with students.

“The time for better relations was before the strike occurred,” Ludwig said.

Weeks said no specific events have firmly been decided yet.

“These are goals which are in the exploratory phase,” Weeks said.

YCC Vice President Nirupam Sinha ’05 said the events that are most likely to be held are “parties and tailgates.” He said he thinks members of Yale’s staff like to interact with students.

“The idea is to get people together in a more social setting,” Sinha said. “[Yale's workers] are always looking to talk to students. They’re very friendly.”

Shymar Avery, who works in the Branford and Saybrook colleges dining halls, said she would enjoy a chance to meet more students and would go to one of these events if they were held.

“We know a lot of students that go to our dining hall, but there’s a lot of students that we don’t know,” Avery said. “It gives us a chance to meet them outside the dining hall.”

Sinha said the YCC has a “strong sense” that students are appreciative of workers and would like the opportunity to thank them.

Wells said he thinks students appreciate workers but might not know the extent of their contributions to the community.

“On some level Yale is such an amazing place, but a lot of times I don’t think folks are aware of all that goes into making such a place possible day in and day out,” Wells said.

Sinha said the YCC had been concerned about student-worker relations since the time of the strike. The council had initially planned a forum for a Yale official and a union official to disseminate information to students, but the strike ended before the plan was implemented, Sinha said.

A Yale food service worker serves up a special dish in the Morse College Dining Hall. A new YCC proposal promotes events for students and employees to meet in more social settings.
Zoe Pershing-Foley
A Yale food service worker serves up a special dish in the Morse College Dining Hall. A new YCC proposal promotes events for students and employees to meet in more social settings.

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