To the Editor:
Imagine a professor sends an e-mail to his graduate students explaining he will not teach his class unless potential TAs sign a statement saying they are not now nor have ever been members of the Communist Party or that another professor threatens to cancel his class unless TAs who happen to be Jewish promise to teach on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.
The professor may have a right to hold opinions on the pernicious influence of Communists or the inconvenient calendar of Jews, and this professor may even publish such opinions in professional journals or newspapers. He does not, in this America, have a “right” to wield his opinions in a way which forces his own students, employees and colleagues to make a false choice between their professional aspirations and their own freedoms of association or religion.
By asking his graduate students to a sign a loyalty oath, Kennedy has put his students in just such a bind. He has placed himself in an undistinguished tradition of those who believe that the interests of certain groups once excluded: Catholics, Jews, Communists, women, blacks. Now labor unions are antithetical to the interests of Yale University.
Should Yale choose to recognize and bargain with GESO, a no-strike clause could be part of any agreement. By striking out on his own, however, Kennedy has shown he is more interested in causing pain to his graduate students and advisees, who must make the terrible choice to fight him in court or sign away their rights, than he is in working towards a settlement agreeable to all parties.
Marco Roth GRD ’03
January 18, 2001