On Thursday 76 undergraduates, increasingly concerned with the crisis taking shape on our campus, filed formal complaints against President Richard Levin under the Dean’s Procedure for Student Complaints. We have charged President Levin with four violations of the University’s Regulations:
1. Repeated misrepresentation of an official document — specifically his claims on three separate occasions that police harassment of two undergraduates over Parents’ Weekend for leafleting in Woolsey Rotunda was justified by the Undergraduate Regulations, the rules governing the use of Bicentennial Buildings, and “Policies On Use of Cross Campus and Hewitt Quadrangle.” The Undergraduate Regulations include no information on Woolsey Rotunda and do not prohibit leafleting anywhere, the rules governing Bicentennial Buildings do not exist, and the Cross Campus and Hewitt policy say nothing about either Woolsey Rotunda or leafleting.
2. Violating the University’s Freedom of Expression Policy by arresting eight Yale employees for leafleting at Yale-New Haven Hospital and detaining two undergraduates for doing the same in Woolsey Rotunda during Parents’ Weekend.
3. Failure to publicly condemn or discourage physical restriction, coercion, or intimidation of members of the Yale Community with respect to the same incidents.
4. Failure to preserve “mutual respect and charitable relations” with the Yale community.
All of these actions expose a discouraging gap between the Yale administration’s current actions and the academic and social mission of the University. “Mutual respect and charitable relations” are particularly crucial now, as the likelihood of labor conflict next semester increases every day.
Unfortunately, President Levin has refused to enter into any real dialogue with the community of which we are a part. He has refused to speak publicly to Yale workers, who have been without a contract for nearly a year, and has accused the unions of stalling negotiations and not wanting to settle a contract when he himself has not displayed any real desire to negotiate or even show up at the bargaining table.
He fired his own negotiating consultant who had called on the University to sit down with its workers in good faith to negotiate contracts, re-evaluate and restructure the work environment at the University, and reach agreements as to the resolution of current organizing drives.
Yale has also threatened to subcontract work and take away jobs, creating an atmosphere that is anything but respectful or charitable.
We are filing these charges because we are convinced that unless we take action, the issues that affect our education, our lives and our community will not be resolved. The University needs to address our concerns.
We are also filing these charges because we want to hold the University to a minimum standard of respect, but we expect more than this. We expect President Levin to lead. Instead, he again refused to speak with us on Thursday. We need to be able to enter a dialogue with President Levin and the rest of the community affected by what is happening on our campus. We hope that in the future we will have the opportunity to do this and not be insulted, harassed, threatened with arrest, or arrested for voicing our concerns. The procedure we have begun will help facilitate a democratic and participatory process by which we can reimagine and reshape our university and our community.
Zach Schwartz-Weinstein is junior in Saybrook College. He is a member of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee.