Yale Graduate Student Teachers Go On Hunger Strike

Dylan Hamme, Reporter

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Yale graduate student teachers started a hunger strike about 2 weeks ago, wanting to negotiate with the union. Eight of them have begun an abstinence of eating and will only stop fasting if they are told by a doctor that it poses a serious health risk. If one of them cannot keep fasting, another one will take his/her place. Four of them have eaten nothing, only having water for 2 weeks straight. The hunger strike is a desperate measure, but it is an effective one to achieve their goal – to have better wages, more secure jobs and to have necessary benefits. This may help the entire work market. Like most institutes, Yale needs graduate students and low-paid faculty members, such as adjunct professors, to teach a lot of its coursework. Contingent faculty members are about 70% of the college teachers in the United States. They are not paid well and don’t have access to affordable health care, job security or a say in their working conditions. The fact that they turn to unions and go on strikes is not surprising, but the way colleges react is. In August of 2016, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that graduate teachers at private colleges are employees, and so have the right to collective bargaining. Graduate students from eight separate departments of Yale decided to unionize, wanting better wages and health care, in addition to access to a legal grievance process and better accountability for troubles like sexual harassment. However, Yale did not respond positively. Instead, it decided to harass and threaten the students. Other elite schools have also tried to undermine the graduate student teachers. They have not been able to make necessary process, and it says a lot about universities in modern society.

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