At a Sunday night meeting that stretched well into Monday morning, the Yale College Council ultimately decided to repeal a resolution it passed last year supporting card-count neutrality as a means of forming a graduate student union. The council stopped disappointingly short, however, of actually opposing card-count neutrality. Instead, it idealistically resolved that “GESO, independent graduate students and the Yale administration should convene and determine the fairest, most expedient recourse, without coercion, to an amicable solution.”
The decision to repeal last year’s pro-neutrality resolution was a good one, since the council readily admitted that it was uninformed when it passed that measure last April. And the call for the Graduate Employees and Students Organization and the administration to convene and reach an amicable solution is impossible to disagree with in spirit, but it seems hopeless given the bitterly opposed viewpoints the two sides hold.
The YCC’s decision would not be so disappointing if there had been no viable alternative on the table. But the council rejected almost all of a well-crafted and intelligent resolution, a measure by Rep. Matthew Robinson ’03 opposing neutrality and calling for an NLRB-sponsored secret ballot election.
The News has long supported such means as the most democratic method of voting on graduate student unionization.
For hours, Robinson held his own against a council clearly divided between neutrality supporters and opponents.
But through an hourlong series of amendments designed to chip away at myriad small points in Robinson’s resolution, Rep. Abbey Hudson ’03 — also a member of Local 35 and United Students At Yale — blurred the focus of the council and weakened the resolution to the point that it no longer made sense.
Around 1:00 a.m., Hudson finally took her first big swipe at Robinson’s measure. She proposed an amendment that would have effectively removed the resolution’s support for the secret ballot election. It failed — in fact, only seven people voted for it.
But when Rep. Naved Sheikh ’03 proposed an hour later that the visibly weary council scuttle the secret ballot election clause and almost all of the rest of Robinson’s resolution, the members found themselves deadlocked, 14-14.
YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of Sheikh’s amendment — destroying most of Robinson’s resolution in the process — because he knew the resolution had been eroded so greatly that no other consensus could result. Many representatives later said they thought fatigue and audience pressure had played a role in the decision.
When the final resolution passed 22-5-1 at 2:30 in the morning, members who had heatedly argued the pros and cons of neutrality for hours were left with no position whatsoever on neutrality or a secret ballot election and no call for action other than their naive plea for a negotiated settlement.
The members had talked themselves out of a decision they were well-qualified to make. They cheered their own success.
Well, most of them did. Robinson took his name off the resolution and abstained from the vote. We would have done the same.