I have before reflected upon the overuse of the word “democracy” by GESO. The looming threat of union conflict gives cause for further explanation and discussion of why GESO’s love of “democracy” is mired in hypocrisy.
A number of GESO members found their latest cause for complaint in the choice of location for the recent Graduate School “town meeting.” The fact that 100 graduate students were unable to enter the Yale University Art Gallery lecture hall due to a lack of seats led students to complain that a change of venue was necessary. When a change of venue was denied, cries for more “democracy” echoed in the halls. Acting more like spoiled children than intelligent adults, the graduate union hacks cried for freedom from the tyranny of their own student assembly.
The recent editorial by Caroline Fitzpatrick GRD ’04 (“GESO wrongly vilified after town meeting,” 3/4) went so far as to claim that, “It should be abundantly clear that the administration and the assembly — the graduate body the administration insists is adequate to advocate for student interests — were responsible for silencing many voices that evening.”
As an organization that has recently argued that faculty should remain tight-lipped if they do not support the Graduate Employees & Students Organization, GESO doesn’t really care to let people who disagree be heard.
The implementation of GESO requires a silencing of dissenters. The fact that so many students would refuse to listen to the Dean of the Graduate School, attacking her comments with boos and hisses reveals that GESO — egged on by that almighty free speech “advocate” Bob Proto — has no intention of engaging in a dialogue. A mass mentality has been formed among “enlightened” graduate students; they need not listen to others.
When GESO members meet with undergraduates and attempt to gain support, they speak of how wonderful Yale would be if students had more contact with faculty and if classes were smaller. They offer bleak views of campus life and then, in a logical leap of faith, assert that unions are the solution.
“If Yale were only more democratic,” they pontificate, “what a swell place it would be.”
When students enter Yale, they submit to a contract. The University will provide the resources for an education, and students will fulfill the requirements asked of them. If someone does not wish to follow the rules, he or she can leave.
Certainly, change is sometimes necessary, and for that reason the administration will communicate with students. The Graduate Student Assembly, the Yale College Council, and the standing committees provide ample opportunity for communication and engagement. Yet when the dean of the Graduate School is hissed at, instead of engaged, one has to wonder whether GESO has any interest in communication rather than mere bullying.
Those who support the strong-arm tactics of the GESO central committee and Bob Proto should admit their hypocrisy. They have no interest in listening to others; their voice is the only voice that should be heard. They are what Alexis de Tocqueville decried when he warned that excessive “democracy” would lead to tyranny and mob rule.
Specifically, the 19th-century Frenchman feared that he “saw very few men who showed that virile candor and manly independence of thought which often marked the Americans of an earlier generation and which, wherever found, is the most salient feature in men of great character.” Such an individual works within the structure of a state to implement change without following the mob.
Yale is meant to train that sort of individual. If GESO really seeks to uphold democratic values, it will help, not hinder, Yale in its educational mission.
The lemmings who blindly follow the GESO leadership and express their beliefs not in a series of questions and answers, but through jeers and hisses, lack character. The free thinking that Yale attempts to inculcate is undermined by their actions.
If GESO truly believes in the greatness of democracy, then it should expect a fight. Most assuredly the Gramsci-reading, Derrida-cuddling revolutionaries in the Hall of Graduate Studies expect to be treated with consideration and concern. Yet if they will not reciprocate, they should not expect their demands to be fulfilled.
Intelligent democrats who care about Yale, unite!
Justin Zaremby is a junior in Calhoun College. His columns appear on alternate Tuesdays.