Twenty-three members of Yale’s graduate student union Local 33 were arrested Thursday morning for blocking three major intersections in downtown New Haven.
According to a press release from the New Haven Police Department, NHPD officers responded to calls when three groups of protesters gathered for sit-ins at the intersections of York and Elm Streets, College and Elm streets, and College and Chapel streets. The demonstrations, which protested Yale’s handling of sexual harassment and assault, began at around 9:00 a.m. and lasted half an hour.
Of the 23 protesters, three were taken into custody on charges of interference and disorderly conduct despite being offered court summons. The other 20 protesters, who were also charged with disorderly conduct, accepted their court summons.
Local 33 deliberately staged the demonstration on Yale’s undergraduate move-out day in order to draw attention to the cause, according to a union press release. Wearing signs that read, “End sexual harassment at Yale” and “How much longer?” protesters demanded the university change the way it handles cases of sexual harassment and assault.
“Professors have commented on my body, on the bodies of women in my department, like it’s part of the ordinary course of business,” said Local 33 Co-Chair Robin Canavan GRD ’19 in the press release. “President Salovey says we should be patient. The time for patience has passed.”
In response to Local 33’s charges, University spokesman Tom Conroy wrote in an email to the News that there are policies in place to address sexual misconducts, including the release of a biannual report of all complaints the University receives as well as 24-hour support and guidance.
Conroy added that a graduate student union would not make Yale any more responsive to complaints of sexual misconduct than it already is.
Thursday morning’s demonstration comes in the midst of a surge of protest activity by Local 33. In addition to its indefinite hunger strike in front of Woodbridge Hall, the group has picketed and circulated a petition. Yale has contested the National Labor Relations Board’s January decision recognizing the Local 33’s right to bargain collectively. Now, the university is refusing to negotiate with the union until the NLRB delivers a final ruling on the pending appeals.
NHPD officers blocked traffic in several downtown areas to protect the protesters. All affected roads reopened at around 10:15 a.m.
This story has been updated to include a comment from a University spokesman.