Seventy-six students filed charges against Yale President Richard Levin Thursday, alleging that he violated the Yale College Undergraduate Regulations. About 40 members of the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, a student group aligned with Yale’s unions, brought the charges to the Yale College Dean’s Office Thursday afternoon and then brought letters about the charges to Levin’s office.
The UOC members said in their letters to Levin that they believe he has been “unresponsive” after a semester of efforts to engage him in dialogue with students about labor relations on campus.
UOC members said the charges were meant to hold Levin to the same standards students must follow. Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead, who received the charges at his office, said he would look them over to determine a procedure that would be appropriate in response.
Levin said he had not had a chance to look at the letters or the charges.
The students filed four charges, which all dealt with the atmosphere between the University and union supporters. Two charges were based on September arrests by hospital police of eight union supporters who leafleted outside Yale-New Haven Hospital buildings. In October, two students were detained by Yale police in Woolsey Rotunda after leafleting there.
The students accused Levin of violating the University’s policy on freedom of expression and failure to condemn or discourage physical restriction, coercion or intimidation of members of the Yale community.
Students also accused Levin of misrepresenting an official document for incorrectly citing University rules as cause for the student detainments.
The last charge accused Levin of “failure to preserve mutual respect and charitable relations in the Yale Community.”
Levin has said he was not responsible for the hospital arrests because the University and the hospital are separate institutions. The arrests have become a major source of dispute between Yale and its unions. Locals 34 and 35, the two largest recognized unions, are currently negotiating new contracts.
In letters to Levin, students said that they understood the severity of the charges and “regretfully feel” that after months of trying to engage Levin their only option is to use formal University procedures against him.
UOC members went to Levin’s Woodbridge Hall office to deliver the letters and a copy of the complaint after leaving Brodhead’s office.
As the entire group filed into the building, Assistant to the President Nina Glickson told the undergraduates that Levin was on his way to a faculty meeting. She told the students that there was no room in the building for all of them and that she would be willing to speak to a few representatives of the group. The students delivered the letters to Glickson and then gathered outside in the snow on the steps of Woodbridge Hall, where three student speakers addressed the group.
Thomas Frampton ’06, one of two undergraduates who was detained in Woolsey in the October incident, said he hoped to see Levin follow the same rules that apply to undergraduates.
“We are holding him accountable by the same standards that we would hold accountable any other member of the University,” Frampton said.
Julia Gonzales ’05 said she felt that Levin had “outright lied” to students about University policy.
As Gonzales spoke, Levin stepped out of his office. The UOC members asked him to talk to them about labor issues. Levin declined.
“If you’re charging me for a crime, don’t I have the right to remain silent?” he asked.
The students expressed their disappointment but Ben Healey ’04 said they would have to continue their efforts to seek a dialogue with Levin.
“This is not just going to go away,” he said. “We will be here as long as it takes to get justice on this campus.”