To the Editor:

In response to the amount of distress caused by my recent column concerning union issues (“The unions? They can look for sympathy elsewhere,” 2/13), I would like to take this opportunity both to retract the column and sincerely apologize to those that it has harmed.

I now realize that in my attempt to write a column that would catch the reader’s eye and challenge his or her opinions, I made assertions and used language that overstep both the limits of responsible criticism and, indeed, my own feelings on the issue.

But what are my true feelings toward Yale’s unions? A claim that I have made several times in the defense of my column these past few days is that if Yale’s workers were making minimum wage with no benefits, then I would be out on Elm Street shutting down traffic with the rest of the protesters — and I stand by this claim. It simply seems to me that — although a raise may be needed — based on the current salaries and benefits, Yale already does a decent job, and that the rhetoric used against the University to portray it as uncaring is unwarranted.

But I have been shown by several concerned critics that the form in which I chose to convey my opinion is not only offensive, but also arrogant and insensitive, although I never meant for it to be any of these things.

I want the Yale workers to know that I never meant to demean them or the jobs that they do in service to the University. I fully realize that I showed them no hint of respect in my column, but I want them to know that I do indeed have a deep respect for them. I want them to know that I am sorry, and that their work does not go unappreciated.

In my column I say that I resent Yale’s unions, but the fact is that I do not. Now, the only resentment I feel is toward myself for having spoken so hurtfully.

I realize that I have both angered and saddened many of the hardworking, honest men and women of Yale University — particularly those of Jonathan Edwards College, my own residential college. They have every right to be angry with me. I just hope that they can find the strength to accept my apology and to forgive me.

Aaron Mitchell ’05

February 17, 2003