An Open Letter to a GESO Friend

Dear Friend,

It seems you are on strike this week and I think it is unfortunate. We have never agreed on your objectives and we especially disagree on the means you use to obtain them.

In the posters you have planted all over campus, you complain about how little we are paid for the teaching we do. I am in my sixth (and last) year here, and I am a TA in an econ class with two groups of 20 great students. This means that each week I have two one-hour sections, some problem sets to grade, and two office hours. Since I am not a “fellow” anymore, I am among the grad students being paid “less.” That means I am getting $756.20 every two weeks (after taxes). Do you really, for one second, believe that our teaching responsibilities are worth that much, let alone more? Shouldn’t we be happy that after having the fellowship for four years we are still able to live off the teaching we do?

You claim female married students have to choose between their family and their career. But you know this is not true. In my time here, none of the students in my department (economics) has had to make that choice. To the contrary, as a result of the generous fellowship program and TA opportunities, they have been able to combine the two with relative ease. Tell me, who has been forced by Yale to make that choice?

You also claim that we are not treated with the respect we deserve. Just out of curiosity, are you being paid for this week you are not teaching by the university that doesn’t respect you? But, more importantly, shouldn’t you give others the respect you claim you’re not given? You systematically harass us in our homes Sunday after Sunday to become members of your organization until we are left with only two alternatives to stop the unwanted solicitation: sign the membership card or be rude. I opted for the latter a couple of years ago, and I strongly recommend that others in the same predicament do likewise.

You boast of a sizeable membership, but how many of your “signed members” just wanted you to stop harassing them? Perhaps this explains why, two years ago when you claimed to represent a majority of graduate students, you pathetically lost the election you organized when a large fraction of your “members” voted against unionization. Now, some of these same “members” are offering to substitute for striking TAs, for free if necessary.

If you respect democracy, stop harassing students and stop deceitfully claiming a majority you know you don’t have. Accept the democratic will that your graduate fellows expressed, freely, in the elections held a couple of years ago; stop visiting people at their homes over and over again until they give up and sign; tell the whole truth and not just the part that interests you. I hope President Levin will observe more respect for the democratic will of the majority of graduate students than you do, and therefore not recognize you.

You claim to fight for high ideals and principles in order to make this a better university. But in reality you don’t. You are just a rent-seeker who fights for power and perks. You believe Yale owes you something just because you are a graduate student here. I don’t, and I will always be indebted to Yale for the generosity it has shown me over the years.


Borja Gracia

Borja Gracia is a sixth-year graduate student in the Economics Department.