Nearly 75 students from the fledgling group United Students at Yale joined more than 1,000 participants in Friday’s union rally on the New Haven Green.
This was the first University-wide organizing effort on the part of the undergraduate student union, which is now known as United Students at Yale. Preceding the rally, the group held an organizational meeting to create its mission statement and plan its structure.
Hoang-Tuoc Le ’03, a meeting participant and Vietnamese Students Association co-president, said the group’s platform was extremely broad, but enthusiasm was still high at the meeting. The platform includes topics such as financial aid, mental-health concerns, class size and funding for student groups and cultural houses.
“I think it’s a great idea, because it captures the campus spirit that there is a need for more student voice and different avenues for student voice besides the ones that already exist,” Le said.
The meeting’s participants, carrying signs reading, “Students for Democracy,” marched from St. Mary’s Church to attend the rally on the Green. The USAY members joined supporters and members of Yale’s two recognized unions, Locals 34 and 35, and organizers for the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and the group that is attempting to unionize service and maintenance employees at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Abigail Krasner ’03, a USAY organizer, attended the rally along with her family, which came from Putney, Vt.
Deborah Krasner, Abigail’s mother, said it was important to come in support of the students.
“Everything that she told us made us want to come,” Deborah Krasner said. “What’s the point of being at a great university and having your mind expanded only to be told you have no power concerning the most intimate details of your daily life? Furthermore, this is a true democracy movement — it’s about sharing power. How could any parent not support this?”
Krasner’s father, Michael Krasner, is an associate professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York. He said that oftentimes universities do not live up to their public stances for democracy.
USAY organizer Abbey Hudson ’03 spoke on behalf of undergraduates at Friday’s rally. In her speech, Hudson said the Yale administration is not democratic.
“We demand our voice is heard, that Yale not just talk of democracy, but put it into practice,” Hudson said. “We are asking Yale to live up to its potential.”
Hudson said the USAY members attending the rally showed support for the unions at the rally.
“Students are aligned with the unions on campus,” Hudson said. “We all have the same problems and we’re all fighting the same fight, to get our voices heard.”
Students at the rally said they attended to support an increase in democracy at Yale.
“I’m here in solidarity with the workers of New Haven, with the hospital workers and GESO,” Joshua Jelly-Schapiro ’02 said. “[Yale] is an undemocratic institution and I’m here in support of democracy for all members of the university and New Haven communities.”