To the Editor:
I got my Ph.D. from Yale in 1997 (American Studies). I was active in GESO at that time, and since then I have been following the fight for union recognition for graduate teachers at Yale and around the country. I thought that when I got a tenure track job, like the one I have now as an English professor at Carnegie Mellon University, that my struggles would be over. In fact, I am facing the same problems that TAs are facing at Yale; my husband (who is a graduate student in psychology) and I have a new baby, and we can hardly pay our health care costs and daycare costs every month. CMU is a great school, but it has the same problems with gender equity as the Ivy League; of the seven colleges at CMU, not one of them has a woman dean. CMU is also struggling with the casualization of teaching. Though adjuncts are uncommon in the English department, they are used throughout the university.
How Yale responds to this strike will have ripple effects throughout higher education. If teachers and workers are treated fairly at Yale, schools like CMU will look to Yale as an example. Please realize that the fight at Yale is about more than the disruption of your classes, or your dining hall services. The fight at Yale is about the future of higher education. I know that many of you want to support progressive change in America today. Your opportunity to do so is standing outside your dorm, and is wearing a picket sign.
Kathy M. Newman GRD ’97
April 19, 2005