To the Editor:
Jennifer Jordan’s letter to the editor (“The privilege of being a Yale graduate student,” 3/24) confesses her “upset” and “confusion” over Carl Levine’s guest column, and says that Levine doesn’t provide the correct information about graduate student status at Yale. From the information she provides, it is quite clear that Jordan is indeed extremely confused. She states that she opposes graduate student unionization because all graduate students are privileged. She is not painting the whole picture of graduate student life at Yale.
I am a doctoral student at the Drama School. Jordan’s claim that “Yale has a policy of providing a stipend to all doctoral students at Yale and not a select few.” I am totally unfunded, and struggling to work on my dissertation while working three jobs in order to pay my rent.
Jordan glibly writes, “If a student takes out a loan, I am guessing that this is out of want and not the necessity to put food on the table.” Her guess is incorrect. Being a student in one of the professional schools virtually guarantees taking out loans in order to pay rent, bills, and yes, “put food on the table.”
Over 20 percent of GESO membership comes from the professional schools. We scramble for funding, are ineligible to apply for Yale graduate fellowships, and are paid less as teaching fellows than our colleagues in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
I am in GESO in order to make the professional schools a better place. I am in GESO because I am a Yale employee. I am a student, but I am also a worker. As a teaching fellow, I grade the students, tests and papers, I rehearse with them after class, and I know the students by name and often write their recommendations.
Jordan asserts that “all adults must make choices and priorities.” I made the choice to come to Yale, understanding the financial hardships I would encounter. That does not mean that I cannot work to improve the conditions I find here. When GESO is recognized as a union, Yale University will be a better place — for faculty, administrators, employees and students.
Kate Bredeson DRA ’05
March 25, 2003