Finnegan Schick

Orange picket signs bobbed in the autumn light Thursday afternoon on Beinecke Plaza as over 600 people called, for the fourth time in 18 months, for a Yale graduate student union.

“This is our decision and we want to make it ourselves,” said Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18, chair of the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, to the crowd over a loudspeaker.

Since its founding in 1990, GESO has held regular strikes, straw polls and rallies on Yale’s campus. And over the past 25 years, GESO’s central demand has remained the same: a vote to unionize without being intimidated by the Yale administration.

But student unionization at Yale — according to administrators and professors interviewed — seems like a contradiction in terms. Beneath the fanfare of Thursday’s rally lay a single question: are members of GESO employees, or are they students?


Around 150 GESO members marched from Warner House to Woodbridge Hall, where they met their allies: two New Haven unions, U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, Mayor Toni Harp and a host of student groups including Fossil Free Yale and Students Unite Now. GESO, which claims it has the support of over two-thirds of Yale graduate students, carried a long banner featuring the faces of its graduate student supporters into Woodbridge Hall.

On Monday, the office of the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences posted flyers around campus highlighting the money Yale spends on graduate students each year in financial aid and stipends. While Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley said her office came up with the idea for the posters before knowing about the rally, Greenberg told the crowd that GESO stood opposed to any effort by Yale to sway graduate student opinion on the topic of unionization.

“[Yale’s] posters are about numbers, our posters are about people and their experiences,” Greenberg said.

Every Yale graduate student must teach for at least three semesters while at Yale. After taking intensive courses for their first two years, graduate students are paired with professors through the Teaching Fellow Program. Every Ph.D. student at Yale receives a full tuition fellowship of $38,700 in addition to a minimum stipend of $29,000, which can reach up to $33,700. These stipends are guaranteed to all Ph.D. candidates in their first five years. Graduate students in the humanities and social sciences who are on course to finish their dissertation during their sixth year also receive a guaranteed stipend during the last year.

After students have completed the teaching requirement, if they choose to teach while finishing their dissertations, they are paid on a course-by-course basis. Students receive $4,000 for a course that requires six to 10 hours of work per week and $8,000 for teaching a course that takes 10 to 20 hours.

“Just as students are expected to attend classes, take exams and write a dissertation, they are expected to teach,” reads the GSAS website on Teaching Fellows.

Several professors and administrators interviewed said they see the Teaching Fellow Program as a vital step in a graduate student’s education. They also pointed out that graduate students do more than teach.

In the humanities and social sciences, students must attend class, conduct research and meet with their advisor about their dissertation. In the sciences, many graduate students do more collaborative work in labs. To think of graduate students as employees, rather than trainees, would be inappropriate, Cooley said.

“Students are students, not employees,” she added.

Former Deputy Provost Charles “Chip” Long came to Yale as a professor in 1966. Having studied at the University of California, Berkeley during the protests of the 1960s, Long said he is sympathetic to student activism. But in the case of GESO, Long worries that graduate students are misguided in their desire for unionization. He said he believes students can have an enormous effect on the University without being unionized.

But Greenberg and other members of GESO have chosen to turn away from Yale-approved channels of communication — like the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate — instead hoping for change through a graduate student union.


The stories of students like Tanambelo Rasolondrainy GRD ’19, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, suggest that some graduate students may throw their support behind GESO, not because they have been turned away from Yale-approved channels, but rather because they are not familiar with other ways of communicating with the University.

“Joining GESO is the only way I can have my voice heard,” he said. “I don’t really know what the GSA is. I don’t have time for that.”

The two primary bodies of graduate student government through which Yale administrators communicate with students are the GSA and the GPSS. Cooley said she meets regularly with the GSA and praised the organization’s proposals as “well-researched.”

Through these two organizations, all graduate students can voice their concerns to the administration, and several requests from the GSA and GPSS have come to fruition. In December 2014, Yale extended a sixth year of funding for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences after working with the GSA. After funding was announced, however, GESO took credit for making it happen. At the time, Greenberg said GESO viewed the sixth-year funding extension as an official response to GESO’s actions. But former Graduate School Dean Tom Pollard said GESO had “absolutely totally nothing to do with it.”

“There are thousands of reasons that the existing channels are not working,” Greenberg said, though he did not elaborate.

The GSA and GESO share a history at Yale, one that shows how graduate students have, by fits and starts, gained a greater voice in their education over the past 50 years. When GESO began in the early 1990s, neither the GSA nor the GPSS were very robust, Long said.

“The GESO organizing effort increased the importance and the validity and the interest in the GSA and GPSS,” Long said, adding that in 1990, “it seemed clear that GESO was organizing not entirely without context.”

The context for the growth of GESO and the GSA was a graduate student population largely dissatisfied with their learning environment, Long said. In the 1960s, Yale only provided full financial aid by merit — the rest of the graduate student population received either partial or no financial assistance.

Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, who earned his Ph.D. from the University in 1995, described life as a graduate student at Yale in the 1990s as “challenging.” In those days, even Yale’s full financial stipend did not meet the cost of living in New Haven, Holloway said. Medical benefits for graduate students were at a bare minimum, and medical care for spouses and children of graduate students was not even considered until more recently, according to Long. Holloway said the disparities in graduate student support were the source of occasional ill-will — unless you got an external fellowship, there was no money for research or travel, he said.

“GESO started, in part, as a result of graduate students’ dissatisfaction in general, not just teaching fellow wages or working conditions,” Long said.

But all this began to change when former University President Richard Levin became Dean of the Graduate Schools of Arts and Sciences in 1992, Holloway said. Levin increased graduate student fellowships across the entire University.

Because Levin’s changes coincided with the foundation of GESO and the growth of the GSA, it is difficult to pin down the source of these reforms. Long said he thinks the creation of a more attractive environment for graduate students would have happened even if GESO had never existed.

“GESO did not cause all this stuff,” Long said. “[GESO] is a symptom of a problem that was already being adjusted.”


While Yale professors who were on campus during the 1990s interviewed by the News said the University has responded to many of the needs of graduate students during the past two decades, GESO continued to push for a student union. In the fall of 1995, GESO members attempted a “grade strike” by withholding the grades on exams and papers in the classes they were teaching. The strike backfired, as not all of GESO’s members withheld the grades. When some professors threatened not to hire GESO members in the spring, GESO took Yale to court.

On Dec. 7, 1995 then-Dean of Yale College Richard Brodhead called GESO’s grade strike a “serious dereliction of a Teaching Fellow’s responsibilities.”

Several months later, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that if GESO had been a union, the grade strike would have been invalid because it was a “partial strike.” Dissenting graduate students, the board ruled, could not withhold their teaching work while still coming to classes and writing their dissertations. GESO became unpopular with undergraduate and graduate students because of the strike, Long said.

Since then, GESO has not attempted any similar strikes. Instead, the GESO of today models itself on the graduate student union at New York University. In 2000, the NYU graduate students negotiated a contract with their university, but then lost the contract in 2005 when the university declined to renew it. In 2013, the group regained union status and remains one of the only graduate student unions at a private university.

Past GESO efforts to unionize also include a 2003 vote by the graduate student body. The vote was not sanctioned by Yale, but was monitored for fairness by a nonpartisan political organization, the League of Women Voters. The motion to unionize failed by 43 votes. Still, GESO continues to ask for a “neutral election” — one without interference from the University. Such a neutral election would still allow GESO to campaign on its own behalf, while also keeping undergraduates, faculty and administrators from voting.

Long said that GESO, in gathering support from graduate students, has used strong-arm tactics like harassing graduate students at their homes and coercing some students into signing union cards. Long characterized such activities as “inappropriate.”

In the past, GESO demonstrated that it had majority support through the collection of signatures of University graduate students. But on Thursday, as the group did the year before, GESO took photos of over two-thirds of graduate students to show their strength in numbers. The rally was among the larger of GESO’s four previous demonstrations in the last year-and-a-half.

GESO, like the GSA and the GPSS, is concerned by what the organization considers insecurities around teaching assignments and funding, as well as inadequate mental health resources and child care for graduate students. GESO has also called for greater gender and racial equity across all departments, especially in the sciences.

Yet according to U.S. labor laws, a union can “collectively bargain” only around issues that pertain directly to the working conditions of union members. Long said that graduate students have nothing to do with faculty hiring, which is currently under the authority of the Office of the Provost. Furthermore, Long said the University knows it needs to diversify its faculty, and has taken steps to do so.

“You don’t need graduate students to instruct [Yale] in the importance of diversity,” Long said. “I don’t know why they’re doing this.”

Holloway said he supports the conversation around faculty diversity that graduate students are trying to foster. Yale recently hired 15 men and 13 women into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for the coming academic year. Of those new hires, three are African-American and six are of East Asian descent. In an email to the News, FAS Dean Tamar Gendler said that an excellent faculty is a diverse faculty.


As the sun set on Beinecke Plaza Thursday evening, a few graduate students shared their personal experiences at Yale. Grant Mao, a former School of Management student, said he was expelled in April after struggling with depression. He said the University barred him from ever entering Evans Hall at the SOM, and that he may have to return to his home in Shanghai due to visa requirements that mandate he remain enrolled in school.

Michelle Morgan GRD ’16, a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies, said that due to the restructuring of the Teaching Fellow stipend last year, she received a 40 percent pay cut. Although Morgan is a seventh-year graduate student and is not required to teach, she said that the money she receives from teaching is necessary to support her son. Morgan said having a graduate student union would help student workers who, like her, struggle financially.

Following the rally, University spokesman Tom Conroy said in an email to the News that Yale highly respects the opinions of Harp and Connecticut’s U.S. senators, noting that Yale has a track record of working with them on city and state issues. The University is responsive to inquiries they may have about Yale policies and practices, including inquiries about the status of graduate students, he said.

Near the end of the rally, Murphy spoke to the crowd about the important role unions have played in American history and in the creation of a middle class.

“What you are asking for is small, it is reasonable,” Murphy said to the crowd. “We will be back here again, but frankly we hope that we don’t have to.”

  • alumforademocraticuniveristy

    Long’s comments are classic union-busting rhetoric. All GESO is asking for is the ability to negotiate with the university as a group, because the only leverage any of us have against our employers is our collective labor. There is no reason that graduate students shouldn’t have a fair say in determining their conditions while working at Yale.

    Having a student assembly is nice, and I’m glad the University listens to some of their suggestions, but they have no real leverage against the University to have their requests met. Yale can ignore, without any repercussions, any request, even if it is firmly supported by a majority of grad students. For how many years has everyone in the Yale community been asking for affordable child care without any meaningful action by Yale? If the University doesn’t need anyone telling them the value of diversity, why is the University so lacking in it? Why won’t they provide affordable childcare to improve the ability of (primarily) women to achieve and advance at Yale?

    If everything is already as perfect and fair as it can be, as Long suggests with his derogatory comments, why is the Yale admin threatened by a grad student union? What is so horrible about grad students having some force behind their requests?

    Sure, conditions are better for grad students than they were in the past–that doesn’t mean they’ve reached the height of fair and humane labor practices. Let’s look at how grad students have to live, not at disconnected and meaningless dollar amounts.

    • Hieronymus Machine

      “Let’s look at how grad students have to live.”

      Yes, being paid to do what you purport to love, getting training in your field, receiving a credential from one of the world’s top universities, working with some of the nation’s brightest students, all while sucking down another Willoughby’s and talkin’ re-vo-LUTION brotha! That’s gotta be tough.

      The real world gonna hurt, my lil snowflakes, gonna hit like a ton o’ bricks.

  • newhavencitizen

    This article is riddled with misinformation and bad reporting. Almost every paragraph gets something wrong. Why not just run an op ed by Chip Long and be done with the pretense of reporting?

  • yale007

    Why not both? They are being paid to teach classes and conduct research, which makes the relationship, at least in part, an employer-employee one. If you are paying someone to do a job, you are employing them and it’s not much more complicated than that.


    -“While Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley said her office came up with the idea for the posters before knowing about the rally” — this is hilarious

    -“Students receive $4,000 for a course that requires six to 10 hours of work per week and $8,000 for teaching a course that takes 10 to 20 hours.” So you could be teaching 20 hours a week but only making 8k, while a colleague could teach for less than a third of that time (6 hours) and make 4k? Seems weird. If I were a grad student I would not be happy.

    -“Long said that GESO, in gathering support from graduate students, has used strong-arm tactics” This part is very true

    -“Furthermore, Long said the University knows it needs to diversify its faculty, and has taken steps to do so.” Um what nope

  • wandering

    What a biased article! The authors did not do a particularly generous job in acknowledging that they are making choices when they choose to present some material – the anti-union numbers & interviews – as facts, and others as “claims.” I think that a more interesting/rigorous question takes both sides into account as facts and as claims. You have to dig deep into why grad students want to unionize, and what a union IS, what it is for – the student/employee dichotomy is incredibly unhelpful rhetoric if you don’t have a clear sense of what is being talked about. The question is not semantic. It is not “I define myself as an employee and therefore I wanna be like other employees who get unions!!!!” You have to talk about collective bargaining, and what it is for – there’s a really good reason two senators were present at yesterday’s event, and it’s certainly not because they’re huge fans of protests for their own sake. The union question cuts at the core of democratic values!
    I think it’s important to talk about why grad students across the country want unions, and why universities don’t want to provide them. The notion of collective bargaining is one with a very rich history in our country – and it doesn’t do this debate justice to push the university’s definition of “student” and “studying” unilaterally. The way I see it, it’s important to at least consider the parallels between a grad student and an employee (a teacher, a nurse, a researcher), when taking into account why students want the ability to collectively bargain – there is a community which has a shared relationship to the organization (the business, the university) which, in exchange for specific labor at specific standards, provides them their means to live.

    Either way, I’m really disappointed by this article – and any discourse, on EITHER side, that cares only about the semantic question. “Are graduate students employees? How many hours a week are spent doing x, or y? Is research labor? Is a dissertation? Is teaching? Grading? Making photocopies for one’s advisor?”
    Those are interesting questions, and important – what parts of a grad students requirements could be replaced by a paying job for someone else?
    But they don’t really get at the core of why collective bargaining matters, and what/who a union is and should be for.

    So much is/ought fallacy. So much “this is how much money one is supposed to make” sans “what does that mean when you account for expenses and/or labor”.

    So much for good reporting & rousing debates. Read more like a well-researched op-ed to me.

    • Hieronymus Machine

      “You have to dig deep into why grad students want to unionize.”

      Only *some* grads want to unionize; indeed, the majority, apparently, do not. MED? SOM? GSAS sciences?

  • Hieronymus Machine

    So rich in material! Where to start?

    “Every Ph.D. student at Yale receives a full tuition fellowship of $38,700 in addition to a minimum stipend of $29,000, which can reach up to $33,700.”
    So, a “salary” of $70k to do what you purport to love AND to receive a coveted credential AND OJT w/some of the world’s best undergrads. Yep, I can see why GESO is angry.

    “A Ph.D. candidate in anthropology stated, ‘Joining GESO is the only way I can have my voice heard. I don’t really know what the GSA is. I don’t have time for that.'”
    So, a student of society and culture has no time to learn about the official grad rep org — but *does* have time for the griper/whiner club? And, though this consummate researcher “really doesn’t know what the GSA is,” he states unequivocally “GESO is the *only* way I can have my voice heard.” Heard? Herd, more like it…

    “‘There are thousands of reasons that the existing channels are not working,’ Greenberg said, though he did not elaborate.” Of such clarity of intellect: overwhelming or overwhelmed?

    “Holloway, who earned his Ph.D. from the University in 1995 said that in those days, even Yale’s full financial stipend did not meet the cost of living in New Haven.” Poppycock. No, seriously: absolute bullfeathers, bunkum and bosh.The stipend was so generous, smart students took the leftover and invested in the stock market…

    “GESO started, in part, as a result of graduate students’ dissatisfaction in general.” Now THAT is a true statement: Disgruntleds gonna d’grunt.

    “In the fall of 1995, GESO members attempted a ‘grade strike,’ which backfired. ”
    I’mma not name names, but I know some volunteers (scabs!) who graded for free…

    “Then-Dean of Yale College Richard Brodhead called GESO’s grade strike a ‘serious dereliction of a Teaching Fellow’s responsibilities.'”
    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    “In the past, GESO demonstrated that it had majority support through the collection of signatures of University graduate students.”
    Collection is a good word, related as it is to “collectivism,” but “coerced” is more accurate. Tag-teams of thugs, multiple “coffees,” relentless pestering by duos of Randian Comrade Sonias.

    IMO, no comment necessary on the “personal” stories — they speak for themselves, albeit likely in unintended ways — but I’ll note that the stories are consistent with certain segments’ avoidance of personal responsibility, need to shift blame externally and an undue sense of entitlement. Oh, wait: they’re GESO!

    • ldffly

      “‘Holloway, who earned his Ph.D. from the University in 1995 said that in those days, even Yale’s full financial stipend did not meet the cost of living in New Haven.” Poppycock. No, seriously: absolute bullfeathers, bunkum and bosh.The stipend was so generous, smart students took the leftover and invested in the stock market…”

      Seriously? Invested what was left over in equities? That was meant as irony, right? I wasn’t there then, but I doubt if any of the money went into the equity market.

  • Hieronymus Machine

    Also, compare opinions of grads from the College to those at the post-bacc stage:

    Undergrads–who must PAY to receive a Yalensis–are generally satisfied. Just shows to go, those who pay the least complain the most.

    I would love to see the work of some budding soc/psych PhD-wannabe compare the emotional/mental health and well-being profiles of GESO vs. GSA participants, as well as GESO vs. the College. I bet we’d find some statistically significant differences (among, e.g., self-esteem, happiness, sense of worth or relative over- vs. underachievement, fear, resentment, perceived social status…. on and on).

  • yalebokononist

    I feel that I didn’t learn anything from this article, whose numbers and figures seem to mask its being severely underreported. Why did only admins tell the story of GESO’s history and current position? Why does it seem that admins were the only people interviewed at all? Where is the pretty crucial detail on GESO’s actual requests to Yale (healthcare, I know; I wish I knew more, but unfortunately this article did not bother educating me)? There is also a willful ignorance about how administration channels operate (Of COURSE the administration will never publicly give credit to student groups whose public pressure had a hand in their changing policies. Ask anybody who has ever organized here).

    The titular question (which for some reason gets two whole sections of this article?) seems beside the point, and boring. Yes, they’re students. But they are also obviously employees, as they also rely on Yale for their livelihood, and sometimes, as the speakers pointed out, that of their families. Questions that are more interesting to me: if we accept that grad students ARE employees, what comes next? What are the possibilities for change; how might lives, teaching, and the university as a whole improve?

    Come on, Yale Daily News, we believe in you and know you can do better: please make an effort to report (and edit) more responsibly. Accurately and fairly represent your fellow students in these pages, and if you must write a story with drama and conflict, please center on the true conflict, which is both more accurate and more interesting: the fact that some graduate teachers’ lives are being disrupted, that they are confronting new challenges, struggling with inadequate paychecks and healthcare. That they are facing down a powerful behemoth using varied and interesting strategies, that they represent many segments of Yale (Ph.D. and masters! many departments and schools!) their efforts are recognized by visionary people and groups (both U.S. senators! the CT attorney general! the mayor! two large, existing unions representing different types of employment! many, many residents of New Haven! this was a huge, diverse, exciting coalition!). I am excited to read more about GESO from YDN in the future, and am hopeful that articles to come will more responsibly and comprehensively cover the realities, possibilities, and challenges of this struggle.

  • Hieronymus Machine

    A seventh-year [GSAS] graduate student is not required to teach, but one “said that the money she receives from teaching is necessary to support her son” and that “having a graduate student union would help student[s] who, like her, struggle financially.”

    I just noticed… “seventh year?” Ah…. So, because someone couldn’t finish a GSAS PhD in the prescribed time (for *whatever* reason — not judgin’), Yale should… *pay*? And help students who struggle financially? Is it Yale’s fault that some students “struggle financially?” Technically, a seventh-year is consuming resources (time, money and attention) from more-efficient scholars. Just sayin’.

    I note of AmStuds: “Students accepted into the doctoral program are fully funded for *five* years [not seven] through a combination of tuition, teaching, and fellowships” and “Eligibility for a *sixth* year of funding in the humanities and social sciences will be determined at the departmental level” and “The Graduate School will exceptionally approve registration [but not nec. funding] in the seventh year but no later” and “The University Dissertation Fellowship (UDF), awarded to all students, is usually taken in years five or six and allows candidates to dedicate themselves exclusively to the completion of the dissertation.”

    Get’chore money fo’ nothin’ an’ yer chex fo’ free!

    One wonders whether the University applies sufficient accountability to see exactly what happened to one’s UDF if’n the ABD PhD wanna-be be in-comb-pleat. (Hurry, hurry super-scurry!)

    [Ed. note vis-à-vis supported offspring: To earn money, I delivered papers/picked peas/mowed lawns/washed cars/shoveled snow/etc. starting at age 12; had my first “real” job at 14 (I lied about my age); in high skool, I worked ~20 hours a week at a local shop plus started my own business; 3x jobs in the summers; why? To relieve my family as best I could from having to “support” me. Anecdote ≠ data and likely some will claim (without basis) my “wh*te privilege” is showing, but still…]

    • volpone

      Seventh year because of the brutality of the academic job market. Most can complete a dissertation in five or six years, but the percentage of Ph.D.s whom Yale can expect to place in academic jobs in their fifth year (especially in the humanities) is very, very small.

      • Hieronymus Machine

        Then pursue something more palatable; the job mkt is not Yale’s responsibility.

        I was lunching with a biochem prof today slummin’ from Cantabrigia: He finds GESO’s planks risible, esp. with regard to 7th years in the “arts.” He noted that, in his field, grads past their freshness date (denoted “g-classic” in emails) are not uncommon in the sciences — because real research takes time — but, of course, their projects results in grants that support the lab, not suck resources from the academy.

        He also happened to note that he must sometimes convince students to finish their programs and NOT jump onto the biotech bandwagon w/o their doctorates…

        Just because one person believes ecocritical neoconunundrums in gender performativity of postcolonial Belizian brothels worthy of study doesn’t mean that someone else should pay for it to the nth year (or at all, some might argue). Now, if you were say, a put-upon anti-Stratfordian , I might have more sympathy…

        • volpone

          If the model is apprenticeship rather than employment, then Yale does have some obligation to help the students it trains find jobs. Only to help its actual students, of course–the imaginary neoconundrumizers will always find employment stoking conservative fever dreams.

          • Hieronymus Machine

            Sorry: A little PTSD flashbacking from my travels with the MLA; however, these are for real:

            Paradoxical Corpographies: Towards an Ethics of Inscription
            Allegory, Allegoresis, and the Hermeneutics of Social Networks
            All the World’s a Brothel: Metaphysics of the Text and Cultural Economy in the Information Age
            The Obama Model and Britain: A Doxological Inquiry into the Rhetoric and Reception of Strategic Identification in the 2008 American Presidential Election.
            Material Possessions: Producing and Performing Race and Empire in American Culture, 1820-1865
            Critique of Contemporary NeoImperialisms Through the Trope of Travel
            Levels of Response in Experiential Conceptualizations of Neighborhood: The Potential for Multiple Versions of this Place Construct
            The Concept of Self‐Reflexive Intertextuality in the Works of Umberto Eco
            Home & Other Myths: A Lexicon of Queer of Inhabitation.
            Neoconcretism and the Making of Brazilian National Culture, 1954-1961

  • Cpfc

    It might be nice if an article about grad-students spoke to some. Why is the YDN using a former deputy provost as the main source of content for an issue that is happening on campus today? Surely there are people who aren’t either retired or in the administration that you might have spoken to about this?

    • guest1239875

      Just to add to this: it would also be nice if this article mentioned the many graduate students who are categorically excluded from GESO (i.e. folks in the sciences, professional schools, non-PhD candidates in GSAS, etc.) Many do not support the “graduate student union,” which the article does not make clear.

      • Aaron Segal

        The sciences are not excluded from GESO.

        • Hieronymus Machine

          What *are* the qualifications, now?

          From 1995: “Since GESO claims to represent graduate students in the humanities and social sciences only, graduate students in the natural sciences and the professional schools were not included on the list, Weinbaum said.”

          From 2003: “Behind a curtain of anonymity, the GESO elites devised an ambiguous definition of voting eligibility based on the “mentoring of undergraduates.” The arbitrary definition excluded many science and medical graduate students, most of whom oppose unionization.”

  • Joseph Exchequer Ohmann

    If the student’s behave in an immature childish fashion as we have seen then Yes of course ,student’s it is , 7’th grade juvenile hyjinks…Oh wait that’s the DOCTORS

  • Charybdis

    A big thing to remember is that a big GESO rally like this (especially one that pulls in major politicos) is primarily a gesture by Yale’s other (coughrealcough) unions to remind the university that they can still make trouble. 3rd- or 4th-year grad students, pulling down a $68K package while studying for their orals, really do not have much to complain about (this is a contrast to 20 years ago when grad students were having an awful time getting by, as even admin lackey Holloway will admit).

    It’s also disingenuous for Yale to pretend that GESO, silly as it is, had no role in the institution’s making things better for grad students. Just as it took Princeton’s making a major move to get Yale to adjust its formerly grossly insufficient undergraduate financial aid, it’s hard not to believe that GESO making a nuisance of itself didn’t get Yale finally to act on the grad student problems that everyone knew were there.

    But the real labor injustice at Yale (and its peers) is the treatment of adjuncts. 7th-year students (who either failed to finish on time or who are holding off finishing because their first try at the job market failed) seem to be basically treated as adjuncts (i.e. fairly poorly). If GESO were serious about addressing labor injustice it would work to unionize a population of adjuncts and 7th-years. Its failure to do so suggests strongly that GESO is more just a group of idealistic students being used as patsies by Yale’s other union locals.

  • dcheretic

    GESO has always been about deceit and control. In the 1990s, GESO was the pet project of Locals 34 and 35. The union leadership was desperate for inroads into the academic side of the university so that they could truly shutdown Yale if their negotiating demands were not met. Locals 34 and 35 would not have invested so much time, money, and effort into GESO unless they were expecting significant returns. If GESO receives union recognition, and Local 34 or Local 35 calls a strike, GESO will respect their picket lines and perhaps even attempt a sympathy strike. I remember GESO walkouts during the 1990s in which grad student activists stood outside of Yale libraries and classrooms and harassed anyone who tried to enter. As the article reports, the organization is infamous for its intimidation campaigns against grad student dissenters. These strong-arm tactics are directly from the playbook of radical unions.

    No one is forced to attend Yale, and the grad students receive extremely generous financial aid packages. Their education, which will lead to comfortable employment and rich benefits, is delivered at no cost to them. Given that most grad students will become professors themselves one day, it is reasonable to expect them to gain teaching experience under the guidance and mentorship of the faculty. Their teaching responsibilities are part of the education experience, and do not warrant unionization.

    Alum 1995