Members of an undergraduate pro-union group, unhappy with the recent arrests and detentions of union sympathizers, gave University President Richard Levin several bright orange fliers at Yale College Council meeting Tuesday.
The Undergraduate Organizing Committee, or UOC, held a brief, surprise demonstration in front of Levin as he attended the closed meeting of the YCC. Approximately 35 students — many of whom had been arrested for participating in a planned civil disobedience demonstration Sept. 25 — came to demand a meeting with Levin. Group members, bearing fliers that read “President Levin — We need to talk,” said they wanted to discuss the arrests of 67 students at the September rally, as well as the University’s response to other recent union activities.
When the UOC members followed Levin into the meeting, YCC President Andrew Allison ’03 requested that all non-YCC representatives leave for what he called “confidentiality” purposes.
UOC members said they were also upset that two undergraduates who handed out leaflets about union issues in Woolsey Hall this weekend were stopped by Yale police. The officers held the two students in the building for about 20 minutes before letting them leave.
UOC member Erin Scharff ’03 said the group chose to rally because their e-mails to Levin demanding answers for the arrests of undergraduate students had not been acknowledged.
“I’d like him to respond in a personalized format,” Scharff said.
UOC members said that format should be an open forum in which students can make their concerns known.
“We have to get heard,” Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 said.
Will Tanzman ’04 said he and the UOC think Levin is acting hypocritically. Tanzman added that although Levin advocates free speech, he took no action when University police interfered in recent demonstrations.
“We have a crisis on our hands,” Tanzman said.
The event, which was supposed to take place on Monday, was intended to surprise Levin, but his reaction indicated that he knew of the plan beforehand.
“Better turnout than I expected,” Levin said, as the students handed him their questions and complaints.
Although the UOC only handed out leaflets and asked for an open forum, Healey said he was pleased with the brief demonstration.
“I think it went very well,” Healey said. “We want to communicate a message to President Levin. He needs to meet with us. We’ve been denied the opportunity — We’re going to keep on working to try and make him hear us and engage us in a dialogue.”
The UOC and YCC hope to hold the desired meeting, possibly at City Hall, before the Thanksgiving break.
“The YCC has been working with the President’s office to schedule an open forum date since the beginning of the semester and we hope to have one by December, preferably before Thanksgiving,” Allison said.
YCC Vice President Ryan Sheely ’04 said he is happy with the administration’s efforts so far.
“The administration is definitely working with us on this,” Sheely said. “They’re reciprocating our efforts to set up a forum.”