On Thursday afternoon, roughly 50 members of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization — the unrecognized graduate student union — found themselves engaged in a familiar occupation: protesting.
The members were standing outside Warner House, where the Provost’s Office is located, to present a list of grievances to Provost Benjamin Polak. According to a 9:49 a.m. Twitter post from GESO representative Andrew Epstein GRD ’19, members gathered to voice concerns relating to “unequal graduate funding.” Finding the doors of Warner House locked, the protestors remained outside for some 20 minutes before disbanding.
GESO Chair Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18, however, declined to comment about the reasons for or outcome of the protest.
Members of the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate — both of which are recognized by the University — criticized GESO’s communication tactics and inability to mobilize large numbers of graduate students.
GSA Steering Committee member Brian Dunican GRD ’15 said he had not been aware that a GESO protest was set to take place on Thursday, adding that the GSA neither supports nor opposes GESO. However, Dunican added that many members of the GSA are also members of GESO.
“Many of the concerns voiced by GESO are reflected in the representatives of the GSA,” Dunican said.
These concerns include the allocation of graduate student funding, power dynamics between students and faculty and insufficient teaching opportunities for graduate students, he said.
The protesters also delivered a document to the Provost’s Office. While Polak is currently out of the office, a representative said he will receive the document upon his return.
Still, there are no guarantees for GESO — Yale has never recognized the graduate student union, despite years of negotiating efforts with the University.
“Because Yale doesn’t have to recognize GESO or any other graduate student union, they have not,” GPSS President Gregg Castellucci said.
The National Labor Relations Board, which oversees graduate students’ employment at private colleges and universities, does not require private institutions to recognize graduate student unions.
Castellucci went on to say that GESO’s lack of communication and contact with GPSS was a “shame” because working together as graduate students is more effective than the alternative. GSA Chair Joori Park GRD ’17 also said that GESO had not contacted the GSA.
Thursday’s group of protesters was much smaller than the October 2014 protest, when 1,000 GESO supporters gathered on Beinecke Plaza.
Steve Reilly GRD ’15 said he thought GESO’s protest tactics were ineffective and that few students knew that the protest was happening.
“Protesting the University is never particularly effective,” Reilly said. “There are many ways you can get your feelings and opinions known.”