The Yale College Republicans held a picnic on Beinecke Plaza on Friday, just feet from the eight graduate students who are fasting in protest of Yale’s refusal to begin bargaining with graduate student union Local 33.

The picnic, which was advertised on Facebook as a tongue-in-cheek response to the ongoing hunger strike, has prompted widespread debate on social media, where some have described the event as “mean-spirited” or “sick” while others have hailed it as a clever counter-demonstration to the controversial fast.

In an interview with the News on Saturday afternoon, Local 33 Chair Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 said the fasting students — who met with Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., on Saturday — ignored the YCR picnic.

“We weren’t focused on it,” Greenberg said. “We’re really focused on making sure we’re drinking enough water and getting enough rest. We’re focused on getting the University’s attention.”

The eight students — Greenberg, co-chair Robin Canavan GRD ’19, Camille Cole GRD ’20, Charles Decker GRD ’18, Lukas Moe GRD ’19, Julia Powers GRD ’19, Emily Sessions GRD ’19 and Jifeng Shen GRD ’18 — began the fast on Tuesday night, and have congregated each day in a large tent across from University President Peter Salovey’s office in Woodbridge Hall. They plan to trade places with other graduate students if their health significantly deteriorates in the coming days.

On Friday afternoon, members of the YCR and other undergraduates gathered on Beinecke Plaza to dine on baked beans, corn and barbecued beef, according to the New Haven Register.

“Just a friendly BBQ in support of Local 33,” one participant wrote on the Facebook event page. “For solidarity purposes, we will be in their immediate vicinity.”

The Yale College Republicans did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Local 33 won federally sanctioned elections in six academic departments in February, and added another two departments to that total earlier this month after reaching an agreement with Yale over contested ballots. But the University has refused to open contract negotiations with Local 33 because it still has appeals pending with the National Labor Relations Board.

According to University spokesman Tom Conroy, Local 33 never received permission from Yale to erect a tent structure on Beinecke Plaza. In a statement to the News on Thursday, Conroy said the the union’s “continuing presence and the structure do not comply with University policies on free expression.”

But asked whether Yale would remove the tent, Conroy declined to elaborate on the University’s plans. Greenberg said Yale has not set a deadline for the removal of the tent, adding that the union “has every intention of staying here for the duration of the fast.”

The YCR is not the only undergraduate group to have taken an interest in the Local 33 hunger strike. On Saturday, as students gathered on Old Campus for Spring ling, Students Unite Now — which advocates for the complete elimination of the student-income contribution and is affiliated with Local 33’s umbrella organization UNITE HERE — circulated a petition expressing support for the union.

“We stand with our graduate teachers who are waiting without eating,” the petition stated. “We stand with them as they fight for mental health care, race and gender equity, a fair grievance procedure and the right to negotiate.”

  • dsch

    Seems about par for the course for Republicans.

    • Freeland Oliverio

      Hmm let’s see…

      – Protesting meaninglessly with the only point being “we like race and gender equity and that means you have to do exactly what we say.”

      – Acting like they’re hunger striking, when in actuality they’re still eating, thus trivializing the real sacrifices of past civil rights leaders (Ghandi) who actually had oppression to combat?

      – Demonizing literally any legitimate challenge or opposition to their asinine views?

      Seems about par for the course for college Democrats.

      • dsch

        Seems about par for the course for college Democrats.

        I mean, I don’t disagree.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Key Student data: would you be ‘comfortable’ with a Trump supporter for a roommate? If not, is that the R’s fault, or yours?

  • Chad Rowan

    We should be sympathetic really. The Trump rump of YCR have been feeling low ever since their favorite snowflake turned out to be a presidential flop. The sight of grads doing it for themselves was just too much for them – they had to go back to the basic instinct to grill meat just to preserve the last shreds of their fragile egos.

    • Liberty Over Comfort

      “Snowflake”: A delicate, transparent, hollowed thing that melts at the slightest exposure to heat and evaporates even in the absence of heat if not coddled and cared for by someone else.

      Your attempt to appropriate a moniker that well-describes bubble wrapped college kids who stage a “symbolic hunger strike” (where they don’t eat until they get the munchies, big time) is empty because it is irrelevant as you use it. Try “penumbra” instead. It’s also inappropriate but at least people would have to look it up.

  • Anthony Spradling

    Too funny, but this “hunger strike” is anything but… These kids do eat!

  • Liberty Over Comfort

    I think we’re all impressed by the courage required to be symbolically hungry. It’s awful to taunt people who can’t eat until they want to. Some people say that because these students get paid $30K/year on top of free tuition, health care, housing, etc., that they are buffoonish, self-centered, ignorant, foolish, asinine, leeches on the collective body of regular people who work everyday to meet their own needs, but I think they’re right.

    • Jonny-O

      Well, they don’t have free housing…

      • Capital Magpie

        You don’t sleep in your office???

        • Jonny-O

          Graduate students don’t get offices.

  • pooh

    I hear the snowflakes only have to be on the hunger strike unless they get hungry maybe they should get human and go have a burger. Protein from the meat might help their brains

  • ShadrachSmith

    May 1st, 2017, Rush led his show with “This is the kind of thing I love. Cook up a barbecue right next to a phony hunger strike.”

  • deep45

    “We stand with our graduate teachers who are waiting without eating,” the petition stated. “We stand with them as they fight for mental health care, race and gender equity, a fair grievance procedure and the right to negotiate.”

    I suggest these people remain professional students. They will not enjoy living in a world which demands results.

  • CC

    The snowflake graduates go on a strict diet to acknowledge free education plus a salary & free health care – and they’re still unhappy?? – we have truly arrived in the Age of Insanity & Entitlement.

  • ChicagoJohn

    “Who’s beef? ”
    “Our beef!!”
    – Current chant

  • christopherschaefer

    In the New Haven Independent, Yale grad student Thomas Hille describes this Modified Hunger Strike (aka “fast”) as “a distasteful show of self-righteousness”. Thus it’s extraordinarily appropriate that the NH Independent article features a photo of the lounging grad students—with Rep. Rosa DeLauro front and center, in one of her typical pontificating poses. Absolutely Perfect. I congratulate their brilliant photographer Thomas Breen. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/an_alternaive_fast/ https://www.facebook.com/RosaDeLauroCronyism/

  • Sam American

    What better campus to face unionized grad students than Yale? It is so much fun watching the radical left eat the far left. Only thing better would be to have a plate of pit barbecue to relish during the delicious sight.

  • Ralphiec88

    It’s good to see the marketplace of ideas open at all at Yale. All the participants are pretty disingenuous, Republicans only oppose unions because unions tend to vote Dem, and behind Local 33’s ever-changing justification of its existence are Mr. Greenberg’s personal aspirations and some very dubious notions of victimhood. Still, the discussion is a good thing.