In its most recent effort to promote graduate student rights, the Graduate Student and Employees Organization, the unrecognized graduate student union, released a report yesterday to call attention to the University’s unresolved questions about teaching positions and faculty diversity as Yale College prepares to expand.
The report, titled “Teaching in a Growing Yale: Critical Questions,” addresses what GESO identified as its three main areas of concern: cuts to Yale’s overall per-student spending, the increasing faculty to student ratio and the lack of diversity among both ladder and non-ladder faculty.
“We’re putting out the report to contribute data and make the conversation that’s already been going on on campus more informed,” GESO Chair Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 said.
The GESO report cites a previous report by the Ad Hoc Committee on Yale College Expansion. The 2014 document stated that the University needs to keep the cost of supporting the 800 more students below the $30 million annual net revenue generated by their tuition and board. In response, the GESO report indicates that the $30 million cap results in a 8.4 percent decrease — the equivalent of $9,133 — in the amount spent by the University per Yale College.
The report also addressed how the influx of 800 more undergraduates without “scaling up” the size of the faculty would increase competition for coveted seats in the classroom. Indicating that there has been no increase in the past six years in the overall pool of ladder and non-ladder faculty from which almost all teaching faculty are drawn the report poses the simple question of who will teach future undergraduates.
According to the report, tenured and tenure-track faculty grew by only 1.7 percent from 2008 to 2014. But despite the small increase, the number of non-ladder faculty decreased by 14 positions in the same time period.
Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said in an email that the ladder faculty had already grown in anticipation of the colleges’ opening, before the project was delayed in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. Holloway said the current ladder faculty is larger than it has ever been.
University President Peter Salovey, Provost Benjamin Polak, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science Lynn Cooley and University Spokesman Tom Conroy did not respond to request for comment on the GESO report.
Seven graduate students interviewed said any University plans should find a balance between the number of students and the number of graduate teachers.
“If they increase their student body that much, they need to increase faculty appropriately,” Debayan Gupta GRD ’17 said.
Gupta added that he thinks the University is already in a situation where class sizes are too large for teachers to effectively teach.
“Many departments are already overwhelmed by the undergrad student enrollment,” said Gupta, who is a doctoral student in the Computer Science department. “In Computer Science, our enrollment is much higher than what the department can handle. If you have an increase in student population, things are going to get much worse.”
Furthermore, the report called attention to the lack of women and people of color in FAS ladder faculty positions compared to non-ladder faculty positions. For women, those numbers are 29 percent to 43.4 percent respectively. Self-reported people of color make up 16.1 percent of ladder faculty, compared to 25.3 percent of non-ladder faculty, the report said.
Adom Getachew GRD ’15, a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Political Science and African American Studies departments, said she is concerned about the lack of diversity in political science professorships both across the country and here at Yale.
“I would not be here if not for the women and women faculty of color that make it possible for me to do my work,” Getachew said. “My question is if the ladder faculty is not going to be expanded, how are we actually going to diversify the faculty?”
All seven graduate students interviewed said they think the University could do more to promote women and people of color during the tenure and non-tenure hiring process, and six out of seven said the University should hire more faculty members in general to accommodate the new undergraduate students arriving in 2017.
“It’s not that fewer women are applying, it’s that suddenly you have a bias when you are applying to get tenure,” Gupta said. “The fact that this difference exists is scary.”
Fadila Habchi GRD ’17 said that in particular she saw a need for more diversity in literature departments like English and French, where the study of culture plays a central role.
People say that one possible reason for the lack of diversity in the faculty is that fewer women and people of color received graduate and professional degrees in the past, said Mitchell Verboncoeur LAW ’17, adding that he does not think that this argument is persuasive today.
Jesus Gutierrez ‘16, a member of Students Unite Now, said he has concerns about how the opening of the new colleges will affect competition for student jobs, particularly for students on financial aid.
“I worked upwards of 10 to 15 hours a week and that has really impacted my experience here at Yale and transition into college life,” Gutierrez said. “What plans are they going to make for those students who will have the financial aid contribution to grapple with?”