Scene on Campus

Gimme shelter

Protesters make themselves at home on Beinecke Plaza.

Photograph by Robbie Short ’19/Yale Daily News

Photograph by Robbie Short ’19/Yale Daily News

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Protest takes many forms, including boat sheds. On a late spring morning, graduate student protesters showed up unannounced on Beinecke Plaza and assembled this wood and plastic structure (after a design by Stimson Marine, Inc.). Elsewhere, other protesters blocked entry to an event for newly admitted students—drawing attention away from the building project. For a month, the shed was home to eight hunger strikers trying to bring Yale to the table for negotiations with Local 33. (Strikers dropped out if fasting threatened their health.) President Peter Salovey ’86PhD responded that he strongly supports free expression, “but threats of self-harm have no place in rational debate when an established dispute resolution process still exists.”

Local 33 wants to represent teaching assistants, with separate bargaining units for different academic departments. In February, elections were held in 9 departments chosen by Local 33, out of a total of 56. Of the 9, 8 voted to unionize. Yale has appealed the decision by the regional head of the National Labor Relations Board to approve elections in only those 9; the decision had effectively closed voting to the great majority of TAs. The university says it won’t start collective bargaining while the appeal process continues.

Yale noted in a statement that the shed violated policies on “shared use of campus space,” but let it stand through commencement. “All day people came by to say hello, to talk, to read, to write or grade papers, to enjoy the spring and each other’s company,” says Local 33-UNITE HERE chair Aaron Greenberg ’18PhD. On May 25, after most students had left campus and just before alumni reunions, Yale took the shed down.

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