Is University’s commitment real or rhetorical?

To the Editor:

As one of the members of GESO who joined members of the other Yale unions in the Provost’s office Tuesday, (“Protestors decry employment practices at Yale,” 1/11), I write to clarify why we requested an open forum to discuss Yale’s employment practices.

Yale’s workforce is starkly stratified along lines of race and gender, so that women and people of color are concentrated in lower levels — whether they are maintenance workers, office workers or teachers and researchers. This is illustrated by the fact that only one black woman has tenure at Yale, though the problem pervades all corners of the University.

GESO and locals 34 and 35 have repeatedly proposed concrete solutions to this problem, yet the administration has repeatedly refused to talk with us about our proposals. Their recalcitrance reached new heights when not one administrator responded to a grievance about diversity submitted by over 300 graduate students last April. When, six months later, graduate students in the African American Studies department asked Dean Butler why the administration had responded to the grievance with only deafening silence, he claimed, incredibly, that it had been lost. When the administration finally mustered a response last month, it was only to refuse to commit to any concrete steps to improve equality in the university’s workforce — or even to hold an open forum to discuss these issues. Given these events, one could be forgiven for suspecting that the University’s commitment to diversity is more rhetorical than it is real.

Provost Andrew Hamilton averred to the News that this is “a challenging problem with no quick and easy solution.” We have offered solutions; administrators have failed to act. Provost Hamilton also told the News that he would be willing to meet with representatives of GESO and locals 34 and 35; I hope he will keep that commitment. This dialogue is long overdue.



Annemarie Strassel GRD ’05

Jan. 11, 2005

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