Yale dismantled graduate student union Local 33’s encampment on Beinecke Plaza early Thursday morning, just as alumni began to arrive on campus for class reunions.
“The shelter, together with picnic tables, an Astroturf patio, couches, bookcases, house plants and electrical lighting, will be stored until the owners reclaim these items,” Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science Tamar Gendler wrote in an email to faculty on Thursday.
In April, eight members of Local 33 began a hunger strike in the encampment — dubbed “33 Wall Street” by union supporters — to pressure the University to open contract negotiations. Yale argued that the structure did not comply with “university policies on free expression,” but allowed it to remain on Beinecke Plaza through the end of Commencement.
During Commencement weekend, the University placed cordons around Beinecke Plaza that prevented students and family members from walking past the encampment.
Local 33 ended the hunger strike on Monday, after a major protest march through downtown New Haven. And at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Yale removed the union encampment, which was occupied by three graduate students and two people unaffiliated with the University, according to the email from Cooley and Gendler.
On Thursday afternoon, Local 33 posted a video on social media that shows construction workers taking down the encampment and moving components of the structure into a truck as police officers supervise the scene.
“I woke up at 4:45 a.m. to the sound of a Yale police officer ordering us to vacate the structure,” Sarah Arveson GRD ’21 said in a union press release.
The removal operation was conducted peacefully and no one was arrested, University spokesman Tom Conroy told the News.
“The structure could not be permanent. The space needed to return to its normal function,” Conroy said. “[The demonstration] continued for about a month through graduation, which certainly gave the union more than ample time to attract attention to its cause.”
In the press release, Local 33 Chair Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18 said the spirit of 33 Wall Street remains “stronger than ever.” And he promised that Local 33 will continue its battle with Yale, which has refused to negotiate as it continues to appeal the legal basis of graduate student unionization.
“If the Yale administration hated the freedom of speech embodied in 33 Wall Street enough to destroy it, they’ll love what’s next,” Greenberg said. “This is just the beginning.”
Yale’s annual reunions, which draw thousands of alumni to campus, began on Thursday.
This article was updated to include Local 33’s Thursday afternoon press release responding to the removal of its encampment.