Roughly 30 members of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee protested Friday afternoon outside a private building where they mistakenly thought the Yale Corporation was holding a meeting.
The protest outside One Century Tower came after UOC members attempted to present their financial aid platform to the Corporation during the first part of its meeting this weekend. The demonstration, which lasted nearly an hour, ended without arrests within 15 minutes of the arrival of Yale and New Haven police.
But Yale President Richard Levin said the Corporation, the University’s highest decision-making body, was not gathering in One Century Tower at the time.
“The meeting was not being held there,” Levin said.
School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said Friday’s Corporation meeting was focused on the Medical School, not the University budget, and took place at the Medical School, not the private building where the UOC protested.
Some of the UOC protestors said they went up to the 14th floor of the building, but a representative from the Development Office told them that the Corporation was not meeting in the building. The entire UOC contingent then stayed outside with the displays advocating financial aid reform that had been sitting in Beinecke Plaza for the past week. At Friday’s rally, a security guard employed by building owner Kosgrove Properties declined to give his name but told UOC members they could not remain in the building.
“If you’re with the group for the financial aid issue, you can’t be inside,” the security guard said to several UOC members.
The same guard prevented UOC members from entering the building through the garage entrance.
UOC members said they were rallying to push the Corporation to increase financial aid for students.
“I’m a financial aid student, and I’d love to get more and not have to work ridiculous summer jobs only to give the money to Yale,” Valentine Pagan ’08 said. “They are finalizing the budget, so this is our last chance.”
In addition to the UOC, Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’06 was present representing Salt of the Earth, a group of Christians advocating social justice.
“This is an issue that crosses religious, racial and class lines,” Kennedy-Shaffer said.
Last spring, Yale eliminated the parent contribution for students from families earning less than $45,000 and reduced it for students from families earning between $45,000 and $60,000. Levin, who met with six members of the UOC last November, has said it remains unlikely that the administration will enact further financial aid changes this spring, primarily due to budget constraints.
Both Yale and New Haven police arrived about 20 minutes after the group that had ascended to the 14th floor returned. Helena Herring ’07, who appeared to be the group’s primary contact with the police, said the police told her they were there to remove the students. She said the police told her they could not block the sidewalk, but forming a picketing circle would be acceptable. The protestors then formed a picketing circle and chanted outside the building.
Before police arrived, one UOC member was overheard telling the rest to obey any police orders.
About 15 minutes later, the group packed up the displays and left, still chanting. UOC members said the New Haven police had told them they would be arrested if they stayed, even if they were picketing and not blocking the sidewalk. Some protestors said they were not sure whether they would have been arrested had they continued picketing.
“It’s unclear to me whether we could have picketed,” Matt Traldi ’06 said.
The Yale and New Haven police departments did not return requests for comment Sunday night.
Levin has previously said it is unlikely there will be a new financial aid initiative this spring.
As part of the UOC’s ongoing financial aid initiative, members have sent letters to 500 of Yale’s top donors urging them to consider Yale’s financial aid policy. The UOC said they will begin leafleting the admissions office throughout the next week, starting today.