To the Editor:
The piece by Justin Zaremby ’03 on the impending GESO strike (“You’re a Yalie, they’re unions: Stay out of it,” 2/18) points out that it will probably not influence the administration significantly. More importantly, the proposed strike does nothing for the graduate students conducting it — they strike not for higher pay, shorter teaching hours to interfere less with their research, or dental insurance, but simply to show solidarity with Yale’s labor unions.
While this may not help graduate student interests, the strike does help GESO, which has received thousands of dollars in funding and logistical support from these unions.
As a first-year graduate student who will soon be TA-ing classes on my own, I believe that teaching assistants should clarify and expand upon the material presented in lecture by professors, just as my best TAs at Yale did for me. To deny my students that assistance is to hold their academic futures as human shields in a fight with the administration. However, by terming their actions as a “strike,” GESO prevents me from merely disagreeing with them. I am now a strike breaker, harming my classmates by crossing picket lines to do my job.
GESO claims its mission is to provide graduate students with a voice, but its actions serve only to take away the voices of those who dissent. I disagree with Mr. Zaremby — this is the time for anyone, graduate or undergraduate, who takes issue with GESO’s actions to speak up. As it now stands, the environment between Yale and its graduate students is rapidly becoming so hostile that qualified students will choose not to do graduate work at Yale simply to avoid an unnecessary conflict that detracts from everyone’s studies. And that would be a loss for everyone, administration, graduate, and undergraduate alike.
Allen Dodson ’02
February 20, 2003
The writer is a first-year microbiology graduate student at Harvard.