GESO protests and publishes

GESO leaders claim that administrators have become less reliant on faculty and students, quoting a professor who said Yale has diminished faculty’s role in governance.
GESO leaders claim that administrators have become less reliant on faculty and students, quoting a professor who said Yale has diminished faculty’s role in governance. Photo by David Burt.

About 250 graduate students congregated at Sterling Memorial Library Wednesday to release a report on what they describe as Yale’s corporate character and failure to collaborate with faculty and graduate students in making policy decisions about their work.

Leaders of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization argued this point both in the 15-page report, titled “Yale Inc.: The Corporate Model in Higher Education” and in prepared remarks at the rally.

GESO leadership claimed that Yale has become less responsive to faculty members in a protest held Tuesday. They also promoted the idea of creating a union for graduate student teachers.
GESO leadership claimed that Yale has become less responsive to faculty members in a protest held Tuesday. They also promoted the idea of creating a union for graduate student teachers.

After leaders of GESO and Locals 34 and 35 — which represent clerical and technical workers, and service and maintenance employees, respectively — spoke to the crowd, the group marched to Warner House to deliver the report to the Office of Provost Peter Salovey.

“The decision-making process is being centralized into the hands of administrators,” said GESO Co-Chair Stephanie Greenlea GRD ’11 in an interview after the event.

Greenlea said she hopes administrators will include GESO in discussions about future changes to Graduate School policy. In December, Greenlea said, she invited Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard to visit GESO’s headquarters. Pollard — who is currently analyzing possible changes to graduate program — declined to meet with GESO, Greenlea said, adding that the dean pointed to the fact that the University does not recognize the group as a union.

Around 250 graduate students marched from Sterling Memorial Library to the Warner House to criticize Yale’s corporate character.
Around 250 graduate students marched from Sterling Memorial Library to the Warner House to criticize Yale’s corporate character.

Pollard would not comment on the rally Wednesday, but in an e-mail to graduate students this month, he invited community members to visit his office individually with concerns. Last month, Pollard said he will meet with faculty members and the Graduate School Assembly, the school’s student government, before he makes any major policy changes.

But GESO leaders said administrators have become less reliant on faculty as well as students. The group’s report quotes an anonymous professor, who said Yale officials have diminished faculty’s role in governance. Now, the professor said, “faculty members are increasingly likely to be ‘consulted’ about decision-making, and more and more on an ad hoc basis.”

But Meg Urry, chair of the Physics Department, said faculty still play a prominent role in making decisions in an interview Wednesday. She added that she is delighted Pollard is taking a close look at graduate programs since there is always room to improve.

“If faculty felt that [collaboration] wasn’t happening with some particular decision, I think we would step up and get a hearing from administrators,” she said. “I’m not too worried about that.”

In his discussions with department heads, Pollard said he plans to discuss ways to encourage students to finish dissertations in a timely manner. But GESO members said the University should focus more on the quality of research than time to completion for its Ph.D students.

Robin Scheffler GRD ’14, GESO’s other co-chair, said he was pushed to complete his dissertation faster than he would have liked. Many students have to learn new languages and travel to produce a strong dissertation, he said, so added pressure can hurt the quality of the finished product.

“They can write it faster, but it just won’t be a very good [dissertation],” he said.

At Wednesday’s rally, students blasted Michael Jackson songs from loudspeakers and bore homemade signs. Laurie Kennington ’01, president of Local 34, and Robert Proto, Local 35’s head, expressed their unions’ support for GESO’s attempts at union recognition.

Proto said that it does not make sense that the University recognizes the unions of Yale staff but not a union for graduate student teachers. Graduate students should have the conditions of their employment spelled out in a contract as do other University staff, he added. Kennington said the graduate students’ inability to secure recognition for their union differentiates the University from any corporation.

The rally was initially scheduled for Feb. 2, but was postponed due to snow.

Comments

  • Hieronymus’ Bosh

    > “They can write it faster, but it just won’t be a very good [dissertation],” he said.

    A sampling:

    “His dissertation project, which looks at performances of glamour from the disco era to the present, recasts spectacularity as a positive tool of self-assertion.”


    Dissertation title: “The Irrational Reason: Mathematics, Logic and Science and the Creation of New Models for Fictional Truth in Dostoevsky, Kharms and Nabokov.”


    Dissertation title: Something comparative on religious education in the US, Argentina, Egypt, and Syria


    “Engaging with African feminist, postcolonial, and queer epistemologies, her dissertation investigates the shifting meanings and the gendered dynamics of female same-sex intimacy in postcolonial Ghana.”


    Dissertation: “Rock-n-roll in Soviet Cinema: A Soundtrack for the Collapse of the Eternal State.”

    ” Her dissertation addresses the racialization of objects and technologies, militarization as a cultural and social phenomenon, and the everyday.”


    Dissertation: Scribe tribes and shape shifters: en ethnographic study of online journal communities


    Dissertation Title: Queering the Heights: Dominican Transnational Identities and Male Homosexuality in New York City.


    Alogism in Russian modernism : an investigation of alogical concepts in the works of Gogol, Bely, Kruchenykh, Malevich, Vaginov and Vvedensk


    “Rebellious Hearts and Loyal Passions: Imagining Civic Consciousness in Ovidian Writing on Women, 1680-1819”


    “Her dissertation focuses on the notion of “homelessness” as a problematic site of queer and postcolonial existence.”


    America Dresses for the Culture Wars: The Politics of Self-Presentation, 1964-1980


    Suburb, City, and the Changing Bounds of Lesbian and Gay Life in Metropolitan Detroit, 1945-1985


    He is currently writing his dissertation, “Everyday Events: Face, Aesthetics, Modernity,” which examines the symbolic and material uses of face in culture at large.

  • Andreology

    The only specific complaint that I could find in this article was “…he was pushed to complete his dissertation faster than he would have liked.” OMG, a graduate student has to meet a deadline. What is scholarship coming to?

  • RexMottram08

    Most serious thought has left the universities… it now resides in the think tanks, private corporations, start-ups, journals, private authorship….

  • FreddyHoneychurch

    Andreology, be careful about conflating the YDN’s coverage of this issue with the actual terms of the debate.

    RexMottram08, anyone who doesn’t already know you will take that comment as pitch-perfect irony. Corporations! Funny guy, that Rex!

  • graduate_student

    >OMG, a graduate student has to meet a deadline.

    Graduate students meet deadlines all the time. They come in the form of research papers, qualifying examinations, dissertation reports, prospectuses, teaching, and so on. Dissertations are meant to be original contributions to human knowledge. I commend anybody who is able to achieve such a feat in two years; but, I surely would not fault anybody for needing more time.

    >What is scholarship coming to?

    I’m at a loss as to the meaning of this statement. Is scholarship worsening? If so, is it because of the refusal to meet “deadlines”? But, if the deadlines are new, then does that mean that scholarship was worse before and is now getting better (thanks to deadlines)?

  • Jaymin

    I liked the “humanities matter doggone it!” sign. Why so defensive? Insecure about the validity of that statement? Haha. Jk.

    @ hieronymus some of those dissertations seemed kinda interesting.

  • Hieronymus’ Bosh

    Jaymin: I agree, although, if you have read a diss or two, their titles are usually the most interesting part. Some of them were included because of their esoteric nature (and that no one would know whether they were “high quality” or not), others for their absurdity, inapplicability, or, um… I dunno, potential lack of what used to pass for scholarship? Silliness? Self indulgence?

    For comparison, check out some theses in biology, physics, or even econ: WOWZERS!

  • Jaymin

    @Hieronymus
    I tend to agree with your absurdity characterization. My friend once found a diss in Bingham a while back titled something like “gender issues in dentistry in 18th century ontario”.

    It just might be an inherent quality of history research nowadays. We’ve got Abe lincoln covered to an absurd degree so now it’s time to move on to his dog. Personally thats why I’ve leaned towered biology. The minutae there has a bit more apparent relevance.

  • dePizansPen

    I’m intrigued, Hieronymus, which dissertations you consider absurd. Let me hazard a few guesses…To start with, I imagine you would immediately strike out anything to do with women, gender, queer identity, etc. How silly it would be to study to study women or people with nonconforming sexual identities…what would humanity gain from that?!? Then, those dissertations on black people, of course, Asians, anyone really who doesn’t identify as Caucasian, anything that really even touches on race, would simply have to go. After all, people like you are postracial, aren’t you? Let’s not forget those dissertations on Jews, Muslims,Hindus, political dissidents (SOCIALISTS!), atheists, poor people, anyone who has the audacity not to speak or write in English…I really could keep going here, couldn’t I? You and Jaymin are both absolutely right. We should all turn towards biology, because that after all is a science that really impacts the lives of white, middleclass, heterosexual, Christian, men (male from birth) and is thus relevant and deeply important for humanity. Otherwise, we all might begin studying Abe Lincoln’s dog like Jaymin suggests, and you know where that might end…bestiality. How lucky us silly academics, interested in studying and representing a diversity of human experience, are to have people like the two of you, to point out our folly.

  • Quals

    Hieronymus, thanks for posting the list, awesome, almost as awesome as the humanities student above freaking out.

  • Jaymin

    @dePizansPen
    I can’t speak for Hieronymus, but I DON’T “immediately strike out anything to do with women, gender, queer identity, etc”. I’m just concerned the field is becoming too saturated, resulting in EVERYTHING being classified in these terms. The fact that in your very comment, you framed biology in terms of the lives of “white, middleclass, heterosexual, Christian men” shows how silly and contrived it is if you read race into every corner of life.

    And even when discussing explicit issues of, say, sexual orientation, so many of these papers get lost in semantics, relating queer culture to European colonialism, western imperialist culture, etc, and often, I simple don’t see the point.