Nearly two weeks after presenting a list of grievances to University administrators, the Graduate Employees and Students Organization took to the steps of Warner House a second time on Wednesday to address gender and racial inequities at the graduate school.
Roughly 50 graduate students gathered at 1 p.m. to hear the grievances of three GESO members — who also delivered nine personal testimonies from 11 other graduate students across several departments. The grievances included the underrepresentation of women and people of color among Yale faculty, and the lack of financial and community support for students who decide to become parents.
While the doors of Warner House were locked, an employee of the Provost’s Office cracked the door open to take the letter from GESO members, saying that he would deliver it to Provost Benjamin Polak.
The grievances were also submitted to Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley and Dean of Strategic Initiatives for Yale College, the Graduate School and Faculty of Arts and Sciences Pamela Schirmeister later on Wednesday.
GESO’s letter claims that the underrepresentation of women and people of color in ladder faculty positions at Yale makes it difficult for students to find mentors. The letter goes on to say that these deficiencies cause “well-documented attrition at every step in the academic pipeline.”
As a student in political science and African American Studies, GESO member Adom Getachew GRD ’15 said she finds it difficult to create an academic community that shares her niche field of study and that can help her navigate her professional development. However, Getachew said she did manage to form a group of women who support her studies, although it was difficult because of the gender imbalance.
A 2006 faculty diversity initiative set goals for hiring more women and minorities to the FAS by June 2013. The initiative called for 30 new professors from minority backgrounds and at least 30 female professors specifically in economics and the sciences.
Getachew said that in the nearly 10 years since the commitment, those goals have not been met.
“I call on Yale to diversify its faculty,” Getachew — who was one of the three GESO members to present GESO’s grievances to Warner House on Wednesday — yelled to the crowd.
Further, GESO members attributed the difficulty of finding a female advisor to the absence of female ladder faculty.
Also at the demonstration, Claire Dickey GRD ’20 said Yale needs to actively recruit more women and make more safe spaces for women on campus, adding that this would help students conduct better research.
Dickey also pointed out that although Yale hired many female faculty members, many of these have since left the University, either because they were not on a tenure track or because they did not feel comfortable in their departments.
Although only three graduate students delivered their personal testimonies during the demonstration, 11 other graduate students also wrote down their grievances. Co-chair of GESO Robin Canavan GRD ’18 said some of these testimonies are personal stories that were not presented at the event at the request of the students.
“Since I got to Yale eight months ago, I’ve already faced very casual discrimination and microaggressions that are pretty common in a male-dominated field,” Dickey told the News.
Underrepresentation was not the only issue addressed in the grievances. Yale does not subsidize childcare support, which GESO members feel undermines the professional credibility of students who decide to start a family.
GESO member Anna Jurkevics GRD ’15 said she faced both explicit and subtle disapproval from faculty and peers about having a child with her husband. Jurkevics also said her peers told her they were concerned about her prospects on the job market, while her husband was not advised against having a child.
As the Warner House doors closed, GESO members chanted, “See you all next time.”