To the Editor:
Responding to a walk-in where GESO members expressed concern over lack of diversity and opportunities for women at Yale (“Protest decries Levin’s silence, 2/18), President Levin said graduate teachers receive tuition waivers and health care. This both avoids the issues and is untrue. I am a graduate teacher who does not receive either because I attend the Divinity School, one of Yale’s professional schools.
Last fall, TAs from professional programs did approximately 20 percent
of the teaching in Yale’s core teaching divisions — humanities, languages
and social sciences. We lead discussion sections, meet students, grade and write recommendations, yet the fundamentally unequal terms afforded to professional school TAs raise a number of unique concerns about the basic fairness of the administration and the value it places on the education of undergraduates.
Along with upper-year graduate students, we bear the brunt of pay inequity in Yale College TA staffing, so I am paid less than many colleagues who spend the same time doing the same work. Then, since professional school TAs do not receive tuition waivers or healthcare subsidies, I give a significant portion of my income back to the university. For professional school TAs, other unnecessary burdens exist. Last fall, I did not receive my first paycheck until Nov. 15 — two and a half months of teaching without pay. I routinely do not have access to basic teaching necessities, like a mailbox in my department or photocopier codes.
Because the administration adamantly resists bargaining collectively
with its teachers and researchers, we don’t currently have an avenue to raise these, or any, issues; thus, I, like a growing number of TAs from Yale’s professional schools, am a proud member of GESO. We take seriously our role in fulfilling Yale’s mission and believe Yale will be better when President Levin affords our teaching the respect it deserves.
Jennifer L. Seaich DIV ’06
Feb. 21, 2005