To the Editor:

“Don’t talk about it. Be about it.” This message galvanized the crowd Monday at the Omni Hotel Ballroom, where representatives from GESO, locals 34 and 35, Connecticut Center for a New Economy, and Yale-New Haven Hospital honored Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by breaking bread with New Haven’s leading citizens. A group of distinguished speakers — including the mayor of New Haven, presidents of locals 34 and 35, and GESO’s co-chair — pledged to support one another in the fight to improve diversity at Yale, calling on the University to recognize GESO as a crucial step in that process. Apparently they don’t agree with President Levin’s unsupported assertion in yesterday’s News that GESO doesn’t represent Yale graduate students.

The event also marked the release of a report detailing the systematic relegation of women and people of color into lower labor grades across Yale, from service and maintenance jobs to graduate and faculty appointments. The report reveals that Yale still disproportionately reserves its tenured and ladder positions for white men, lagging well behind national averages for recruiting female and minority faculty and graduate students. These conclusions appear particularly damning in the wake of President Levin’s Jan. 14 e-mail trumpeting Yale’s alleged leadership in increasing diversity.

Despite the grim nature of the report, everyone in attendance expressed confidence that Yale would soon recognize where its best interests lie: with the workers, teachers and researchers who make this University function. In the uniting spirit of Dr. King, GESO cemented ties of solidarity with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., State Sen. Martin Looney, the New Haven Board of Aldermen and fellow Yale workers. It’s a shame President Levin wasn’t there. He could have learned a lot about what genuine commitment to diversity entails.

Kate Unterman GRD ’09

Jan. 18, 2005