The eight Yale graduate students sitting back-to-back in a circle at the intersection of Elm and York streets had a few options: They could do as the officers requested and get out of the street. They could stay and be ticketed. Or like some of their colleagues simultaneously blocking Church and Chapel and at College and Grove streets, they could be taken into custody.
After about 45 minutes of blocking the street Thursday morning — an act that required the New Haven police officers to strategically block off city streets to stop cars from speeding down Elm Street — the protesters chose the ticket for disorderly conduct and got out of the street.
Meanwhile, another contingent of members performed a similar act, blocking College and Chapel streets. But they decided to require police officers to carry them from the street.
Seven more accepted tickets and voluntarily left a third spot where they were blocking traffic, at Grove and College.
So went the latest effort by UNITE HERE Local 33 members to get Yale Univesity to recognize its new union of graduate student teachers and come to the negotiating table.
Police arrested a total of 23 graduate students for blocking traffic at the three locations.
Members of the union have been engaged in a water-only fast for 16 days. This was the first time that the protest has moved to city streets.
Sarah Arveson, a second-year Ph.D. student in Yale’s geology and geophysics department, said it was with good reason that the union cause was made more visible to the wider public Thursday. It was Move Out Day for Yale undergraduates. Protesters wanted to let parents know the extent of what she said was a “crisis of sexual harassment and sexual assault.”
“Obviously, over 1,000 undergraduates signed the petition in support of our fast and in support of our campaign, so we know that the undergraduates do stand with us and they are all aware of what’s going on,” said Arveson, who is one of the subbed in fasters and has been on a water-only diet for six days. “It’s great to have that visible to the parents as well so that they know what’s going on at this school.”
Arveson said she has experienced sexual harassment at Yale and admitted that she was too afraid to report it. “Oftentimes, those who are offenders are in power positions and there are not good enough venues to report sexual misconduct and make sure it is taken care of.
“Our main thing is we voted for a union,” she added. “We’re a certified union. It is Yale’s legal obligation to negotiate with us. What we are asking for is very basic: To get a fair grievance procedure that deals with things like sexual harassment and sexual assault. They should not be fighting us for that.”
Jaden “Jeww” Greene, who happened upon the protesters Thursday, said he was shocked to learn that sexual harassment and assault was happening at Yale. He jumped on Facebook live to broadcast the protest to his friends.
“I thought Yale was a good place,” he said.
Yale has repeatedly called on Local 33 protesters to end their fast and argued that the proper forum for resolving this dispute is through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Yale has for a second time appealed to the NLRB — which will soon have new appointees from President Donald Trump — to overturn a decision that allowed unionizing elections to take place in only nine out of more than 50 academic departments; UNITE HERE won eight of those elections. Yale argues that it already provides generous terms for graduate students, who study tuition-free and receive annual stipends of $30,000 a year or more along with health insurance. A Yale spokesman Thursday directed reporters to this link to detail how Yale handles sexual misconduct.
Thomas Conroy, a spokesman for Yale, said in an emailed response that the university “has strong and effective policies and procedures in place now to address sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct. All students with concerns or complaints are strongly urged to come forward by the university and receive the support and guidance that is available around the clock. Twice a year we put out a report of all complaints received from students and how they were addressed. We don’t know of any other school that does that. A union of graduate students would not make Yale any more diligent and responsive on this issue than it already is on behalf of all students. We scrupulously follow the guidance and the directives of the federal government to meet the requirements of Title IX.”
Conroy said students are told that the following is communicated to students:
“Yale strives to be a community free of sexual misconduct, by promoting the essential values of respect and responsibility, providing education, and working with students, faculty, and staff to create a community that is safe and supportive for all. Yale takes all complaints and accusations of sexual misconduct seriously.
“Sexual assault, harassment, and other forms of sexual misconduct can have a profound impact on one’s personal and academic life. The university strongly encourages those affected by sexual misconduct to seek help and support from any of the resources below and to take action, including pursuing a criminal or disciplinary complaint. If you are uncertain of your options or simply need help, call the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education (SHARE) Center 203.432.2000.”
Everything the university does and all the services and support it provides can be found here, he said.
Scene At College & Chapel
At 9:01 a.m. eight women parked themselves at the intersection of College and Chapel streets — and refused to move until they were literally carried away by police officers.
Graduate students, Local 33 representatives, and a group of around 25 supporters made their way toward the intersection, walking quietly with orange tape and a few orange lawn chairs from Elm and College Street. Once there, they spread out, fanning to different corners before donning yellow reflective vests and getting ready to step into formation. At the change of a stoplight, several of them spread across the intersection, blocking cars at all of its four edges with orange tape.
As they stood, beginning to chant, graduate students Lindsay Zafir, Kelly Goodman, Gwen Prowse, Yahel Matalon, Mie Inouye, Nica Siegel, and original fasters Julia Powers and Robin Canavan walked to the middle of the intersection, sat down, and linked arms. Around their necks, they — like their compatriots blocking the street — had donned navy blue signs with white text, reading “How much longer?” and “End Sexual Harassment at Yale.”
Zafir and Goodman are graduate students in the history department; Matalon and Powers are in comparative literature, Canavan is in geology and geophysics, and the rest are in political science.
“No safety, no peace! No safety, no peace!” they chanted. As they settled into a rhythm, passers-by began to gather at each corner, a few curious onlookers pulling out their cell phones to snap photos and record. Fasting replacement Alyssa Battistoni chanted and clapped from the corner.
Traffic had begun to back up. Beside each other, the D5 and F6 buses honked. On his way to work down College Street, Joe Smith slowed his bike and leaned over the handlebars with an audible sigh.
“They ain’t ever gonna negotiate,” said Smith, who works as a chef downtown, of Yale. “How long have they been out here?”
In the circle, Smith’s sentiment didn’t deter protesters. Moving onto a cheer of “Negotiate!” Powers took a short break to talk, between chants, about what brought her out onto the pavement, where she was planning to stay until being forcibly removed.
“I’m out here because there’s a crisis of sexual harassment at Yale that the administration is not willing to address,” she said. “54 percent of graduate women at Yale have experienced sexual harassment. It’s not safe for them with the [current] power dynamic, it’s not safe for them to report, and when they do, Yale delays and does nothing.”
As they continued to chant, officers Roger Kergaravat and Derek Cohen arrived on the scene, one by car and the other on bike. As they called in backup, Kergaravat walked through traffic, trying to calm drivers who had been sitting at the intersection for the better part of 30 minutes. They remained outside of the makeshift, orange-taped perimeter as chants turned to “How much longer? How much longer?”
For the cops, it wasn’t that much longer. Within minutes, several more cop cars and a prisoner transport van arrived at the scene, lumbering down College Street before stopping short of the protesters. Officers John Barbetti, Carlos Ortiz, Michael Daniele, Lt. Max Joyner, Assistant Chief Tony Reyes and others assembled at College, speaking about what to do.
After several minutes, Reyes and Joyner motioned over a union representative who declined to give his name or talk to the press.
“Are they ready to go to jail?” he asked. The rep said he didn’t know.
Barbetti approached the graduate students. Crouching down, he asked each of them one by one: Are you prepared to go to jail?Are you willing to be arrested. One by one, they nodded.
Canavan, Powers, and Inouye wanted to be arrested, taken to the police station, and processed, they told the officers. For that, they would be charged with both disorderly conduct and interference, the police told them. They nodded. The police let the remaining five students know that they’d be charged with disorderly conduct, and written summonses. They nodded, still chanting as the police spoke to them.
Then, officers moved in to arrest the protesters one by one. Working with two Yale police officers, who declined to give their names, Kergaravat and Joyner asked each women if she was prepared to stand, and then assisted those whose legs had fallen asleep. At times, the officers tenderly lifted the students until their legs woke up, and they could walk on their own. Canavan, Powers, and Inouye made their way to the police van. Zafir, Goodman, Prowse, Matalon and Siegel stood at the Green looking slightly dazed, shaking out their legs as officers issued them summonses for disorderly conduct.
As the van drove away, the five women headed back towards Elm Street. They declined to comment on what they plan to do next.
American democracy is crumbling and they are protesting Yale?
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 11, 2017 12:50pm
New Adventures in Traffic Calming.
posted by: GroveStreet on May 11, 2017 1:08pm
There needs to be a protest against protesting Yale students who annoy people who are not responsible for their petty grievances that should be contained to campus.
posted by: OverTheRiverThruTheHood on May 11, 2017 1:20pm
I support unions, and their right to protest. However, blocking city streets is not OK. Regular people that have nothing to do with any of this are the ones getting stuck in the traffic nightmares this creates. People trying to get to work, people trying to bring children to school or daycare. Chain yourselves to the doors of the presidents office, block the entrances to the quads with signs and protesters, whatever, but aim it at the powers at Yale, not the populace of New Haven. They should focus on gaining allies, not making enemies. Contrary to what many of the students seem to think, Chapel and Elm streets are not university property, they are major arteries in downtown. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly at work. Everyone deserves a safe working environment. But this kind of behavior is misguided and counter productive.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 11, 2017 1:28pm
I like your idea…... Food Fight????
posted by: OutofTown on May 11, 2017 1:29pm
Just in - Jared Kushner, reeling from the loss of a skyscraper deal in China, has optioned the middle of the intersection at College/Chapel and College/Elm for bigger and swankier buildings, just like the soon-to-be-renovated 33 Wall Street. “Squatters rights are enough to get this deal done” Kushner was overhead mumbling. “Pretty soon this rub joint will have glitz and flash, unlike the dead intersection of Broadway and College.”
posted by: Westville voter on May 11, 2017 2:27pm
How many police officers were diverted from their usual duties to deal with this spectacle? Those officers should be patrolling our neighborhoods, protecting tax-paying residents, instead of being used as props for this UNITE photo op. Of course, our UNITE owned BOA will disagree. It’s time to put a stop to this fiasco and for the citizens of New Haven to unite against UNITE. It’s also time for these students to wake up and realize that they are being used as pawns by their union bosses. Finish your dissertations and move on.
posted by: Etrigan on May 11, 2017 2:28pm
If it doesn’t inconvenience people, it isn’t civil disobedience. Regardless of whether you feel it is justified or not, any kind of protest is going to cause inconvenience—that’s the point.
It’s funny, though, how everyone seems to be *dying* to get to work all of a sudden. In my experience “being delayed due to people performing civil disobedience due to perceived injustices” is one of the least specious reasons why people have shown up a half an hour late to work…
posted by: OhHum on May 11, 2017 2:51pm
Syllabus for ‘What not to have happen if you’re a PhD student hoping to land a faculty position upon graduation” - 601 1. Don’t get arrested for disorderly conduct and interference. 2. Listen to the thinker of the thoughts in your head who is telling you that getting arrested isn’t a good idea. 3. Tell yourself that perhaps you are not as bright as you thought you were. 4. Plead for forgiveness with the prosecutor. 5. Don’t use a public defender. 6. Read the student handbook you received in the entrance package. 7. Pray that Gateway College has an adjunct position for you.
posted by: Stencil on May 11, 2017 3:29pm
These student activists are pawns for Unite Here’s quest for more leverage over Yale and New Haven. That is the larger issue here. The leaders of these protests may very well be rewarded with a seat on the city council in a few years like their predecessors.
One cannot help but notice that these students sure do have a lot of free time on their hands. One would think that they would want to graduate as quickly as possible with the best PhD thesis possible to get a job that pays them the salary and benefits that they feel they deserve. They may bemoan the job market for assistant professors, but the job market has been competitive for a least 30 years. No one made them go to graduate school for $30k+paid tuition+benefits.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 11, 2017 3:47pm
So one of the commenters is concerned about a crumbling democracy, while others consider the protesters’ issues “petty” and still others prefer smoothly flowing traffic to trying to alert people to issues that demand attention. Democracy is useless if you don’t use it petition for a redress of your grievances, and I think it quite appropriate to select a multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation whose top people live like princes and princess while they exploit the toil of others. And don’t forget Yale continues to raise tuition while sitting on its stash of $26 billion, of which a measly $150 million goes to the City of New Haven while it gobbles up tax exempt lands like an old Pac Man game. We all have our priorities. I’m with the proles.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 11, 2017 4:03pm
“Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power.”
Yale is neither a government nor an occupying international power. (but that would be an interesting debate).
This is an Internal conflict at a Private Institution. To bring the community at large into a private conflict in this way makes you and asshole.
posted by: Anonymous Bosh on May 11, 2017 4:40pm
I assume you’re a N’Havener. You think the equivalent of $70k/year* + free health care = prole?
Remember, these folks have time to protest ‘cause they ain’t got JOBS.
*Tuition waived ($40k); free money (stipend = $30k) and only TA—teaching “assistant”—for 2 out of 6-7 years?
And remember: where do you think Yale’s “top people” came from???
posted by: Nathan on May 11, 2017 5:12pm
“After about 45 minutes of blocking the street Thursday morning…” - NHPD catered far too long to the protesters. Upon arrival of the scene, they should have immediately ticketed and removed them from the streets. They have no right to disrupt hundreds, if not thousands of people trying to live their lives peacefully - and I’ll bet they lost some public support for their cause as well.
posted by: TheMadcap on May 11, 2017 5:32pm
“This is an Internal conflict at a Private Institution” Sure lets just pretend Yale exists in a vacuum
posted by: Statestreeter on May 11, 2017 5:52pm
What’s a bunch of entitled jerks. They should all be arrested. What’s with the cops giving them a choice? They do this like it’s a cute little joke to get arrested. Make it real. The City should add up the cost for the response and send it to the prosecutor to be reimbursed as part of any plea or sentence. Why should I as a taxpayer be on the hook for these jackasses.
Remember when the City demanded $4100.00 for the joggers playing that game when they left baking flour by IKEA? Eventually they agreed to let them do community service but they also didn’t do something deliberately to cause a problem. These fools did. If you let them get off with some slap on the wrist for what they did just expect it to escalate.
BTW Yale it partly your fault for letting these bums build a tent on your property. Rip it down and let’s move on. As a taxpayer I have to have my day screwed up because they are going to have a dumbass sit in in the middle of the road and then on top of that I have to pay for it to have the police clear them away. No way. These people have no support except from the handful of students who voted for them (Less than 10%) and political hacks like do nothing DeLauro and Hopeless Harp.
“Zafir and Goodman are graduate students in the history department; Matalon and Powers are in comparative literature, Canavan is in geology and geophysics, and the rest are in political science.” OK, that explains a lot. Even with graduate degrees from Yale, these kids will have difficulty finding jobs in fields where there is not high demand. They should be holding protests at their respective high school guidance counselors’ offices.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 11, 2017 7:45pm
You can’t trust the opinions of Dwightstreeter and Madcap as being impartial. They are both part of the ‘Yale System’.
Look at your contracts before you sign them. Don’t sign up for something you think might compromise your integrity.
The operative words here are ‘Willful Participants’.
No sympathy from my end. I think I speak for a lot of New Haveners.
posted by: wendy1 on May 11, 2017 8:00pm
Dwightstreeter——Yale only pays the city 15 million or less a year—-big difference. I support the kids and only wish more of the city was involved in their plight which is actually our own; namely the fact that this corporation is stingy to the max whether it’s their teachers or their town. I have balled out BOA members for not demanding more.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 11, 2017 8:04pm
How does being pro labor make anyone part of the Yale system? There is no logic to your observation Saunders. The outrage of some of the commentators makes me think you’d be happier to see the police bash heads and toss them all in jail. This is a small time charge and neither the police or the courts get wound up by this any more.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 11, 2017 8:16pm
I think everyone here needs an education in Hierarchical Power and the Proper Levels of Engagement.
If and when your cause has reached a real level of ‘oppression’, you have already exhausted what could have be legitimate measures dissent…...
The Little Kids Who Cried Wolf…....
posted by: new havener on May 11, 2017 8:54pm
there’s no way in hell I would be held back if i were first in line when the tape went up…what would the police response to me crossing the line? what laws would I be breaking? what would an acceptable, lawful response be to protesters banging on my car as I went past their attempt to unlawfully hold me against my will? 45 minutes to put up with BS in the morning that that absolutely does not concern me is 44 minutes too much.
whomever the new Chief of Police is going to be, should come in with a well-thought plan to deal with these situations swiftly and effectively.
posted by: Mark Firla on May 11, 2017 9:11pm
Bill Saunders Is this thread representative of your opinion on all labor disputes at Yale? Or is specific to graduate teachers?
posted by: BevHills730 on May 11, 2017 9:12pm
I admired your fights with the city even when I disagreed with your targets. But honestly Yale is much more powerful organization than the city. It is also wrecking much more harm on the world. The idea that a legitimate form of protest against the city is illegitimate against Yale is absurd. Btw Yale has it’s own police force.
posted by: BevHills730 on May 11, 2017 9:14pm
ohHum goes from appropriating the struggles of others to trashing community college. Must be a Yale admin.
posted by: TheMadcap on May 11, 2017 10:12pm
They are both part of the ‘Yale System
I work for an effing supermarket. Im just nit bitter against people participating in civil disobedience to draw attention to their cause. Bill I don’t remember you lambasting Occupy folks for constantly blocking traffic during marches?
“Q: Does the Local, State, or Federal government have any laws that prevent Yale from behaving so? A: No.”
Bill, if this didnt involve Yalies I doubt you’d be jumping on the “its the law” train
posted by: Glassjaw on May 11, 2017 11:58pm
You can mewl about police being tied up or extra traffic if you aren’t a sports fan. If you are then YOU make us deal with it for your homegames.
Protesting to increase exposure of a pro-rape Ivy university is worth civil disobedience. Starving protestors wouldn’t be in the street if it wasn’t for Yale.
But, please, go on about the crimes un-policed and lives put in danger as if cops handling community and traffic situations doesn’t happen everyday.. I promise not to read too far into your utter lack of empathy for assault victims. XD
posted by: e_pluribus_unum on May 12, 2017 7:12am
Parents, I hope, willl learn a lot about Yale as they deal with the speed-bump kiddies. They will learn their money is being wasted sending their kids to this school. They will see that these spoiled protesters don’t have the ability to focus on their issue but rather use any protest to throw in any and all imagined grievances. All just looking for their 15 minutes of fame.
They are tarnishing their resumes should they ever think of applying for a real job someplace. Hint- the kids who study and go to school to graduate with good grades, instead of pulling foolish stunts such as this, will get hired before the professional protesters. America does not see them as brave warriors. America looks at them with pity.
posted by: theNEWnewhaven on May 12, 2017 10:08am
LOL @ the second comment by Bill Saunders.
Once you get used to the architecture of Yale and the added restaurants / density the population brings…
Yale’s regular students / staff start to look more and more removed from our City / Connecticut.
This city is being sold out from under us and these girls are the symbol of our future as a town.
RUN by these fools and we have to be thankful because “We’d be Bridgeport without them.”
posted by: jdossgollin on May 12, 2017 11:46am
Did my undergraduate at Yale and am now a (paid) graduate student at Columbia, also undergoing a strong unionization push, so maybe a few points & opinions I can share
- First of all, better avenues for reporting sexual assault & harassment is needed. This is not the same as a union. The power dynamics won’t go away with a union (and if a union member is accused, expect punishing them to be much harder). - I’m all for paying people like me more! But some humility is in order—getting paid enough to cover meals and a room in East Rock (or Manhattan) while getting a degree at a top university is a blessing. The real problem is that students coming in don’t have a clear (or binding) sense of what funding is guaranteed; there are students at some schools who finish 3 or 4 years of their PhD—close to done—and are informed that their funding is gone (most funding comes from their adviser or department; it’s not typically related to their performance). That’s unfair. - In some fields, graduate students are more like “employees” than others. For example, in the humanities they are often carrying a high teaching load; in biomedical sciences they are often doing a lot of “grunt” lab work in big experiments supervised by senior researchers. In other fields we get to do our own research project and aren’t really employees - The Universities have lots of reasons to be against unionization. Shifting power away from departments and professors to another bureaucracy should be worrying. Adding a structure that can tell graduate students how much to work makes a lot of people nervous. Almost certainly they want to pay less. But that’s not an excuse for stalling—I believe they teach that if you disagree with an idea, you engage with it rather than stifle it.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 12, 2017 11:56am
You are incorrect in your assertion about me thinking differently about his were it not about ‘Yalies’.
I have strong views about the differences between public and private entities that I think this younger generation needs a real lesson in. If a small group of Yalies want to hold Campus hostage, that is one thing. If that conflict is going to spill into the public purview in this manner, it has gone to far.
And while I support the activists who participated in the recent Immigrants Rights Protest, blocking a public causeway, again, went too far. But so did the Dogs.
Believe it or not, for all of the perceived troublemaking I have participated in in New Haven, it has always been either under a legally obtained permit, as part of the public process, by knowing my rights and respecting the rights of others.
When in it time to tear down The Bastille, I am there….....but that is not this nonsense…...
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 12, 2017 11:57am
btw, I was no fan of OCCUPY…. I am sure you can find some comments somewhere if you look.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 12, 2017 12:01pm
If you are not a Yale Affiliate, then I apologize. Since you moved from Ward 23 to Ward 1, maybe I made a bad assumption.
Believe it or not—I am Pro-Union too!
But this isn’t about Workers or The Working Class….
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 12, 2017 12:10pm
I hope my last comment answered your question about my feelings about Labor Unions.
If it weren’t for Labor Unions, health care and pension benefits would have eroded in this country even faster than they have.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 12, 2017 1:56pm
@Saunders: What the hell kind of revolutionary storming the Bastille goes and gets a permit first? :-)
posted by: OhHum on May 12, 2017 2:18pm
BevHills730 says, “ohHum goes from appropriating the struggles of others to trashing community college. Must be a Yale admin.”
BevHills730, you insist on rambling on irrationally about appropriation…OhHum. Trashing Community College…you’re incorrect or delusional. But, thank you for the promotion. The students are still an embarrassment.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 12, 2017 2:37pm
Is Yale offering a class in Critical Thinking…....
You say “UNION” and Everyone is supposed to Jump!
If Rape and Sexual Predation are big issues on the Yale Campus, I would recommend that the victims of these crimes go directly to NHPD, and cut out the middle man…..they are the ones interested in ‘saving face’.
posted by: manofthepeople on May 12, 2017 7:13pm
Unlike these privileged rich kids, some of us had work to get to. You think that my boss was understanding when I arrived half an hour late? Absolutely not, I got my pay docked and received a written warning. Thanks for for making me look like an idiot in front of everyone, and getting me in trouble. When I take a minute too long making a drink for you, you guys are the a-holes complaining to your friends about the delay. If I meet one of you at night, I would punch you in the face. Of course, because I’m not a white yalie, I would probably get thrown in jail. You protestors straight up suck.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 13, 2017 12:27am
You have become laughable in your attack.
posted by: Bill Saunders on May 15, 2017 8:02pm
Here is the bottom line….
There is over a hundred years of law regarding labor unions.
If this ‘protest’ were actually a legitimate labor dispute, there would be rules governing where picketing is allowed. It would not be in the middle of a public thoroughfare, that is for sure.
This dispute is supposed to one against ‘the company’, not the public at large. If these students had blocked Salovey’s driveway, that would have been appropriate given the perceived dispute against ‘management’.
These idiotic students have blown any good will regarding their cause with this traffic calming measure, if the faux hunger strike wasn’t enough.
Maybe everyone needs a class in ‘Mock Labor Unions’, much like the ‘Model UN’ , and we can call it a day. You can’t take these people seriously. They operate with no real respect for the process they participated in.
There is no way that blocking public traffic does anything. There is nobody in the Local or State Government that can redress the ‘grievances’ of these students.
They participated in an Union Election and the vote Failed.
The Union can have another vote in the future, as permitted under existing labor laws….. This is not rocket science, this is gerrymandering, with knowledge gained from a legal Union Vote.
It is a disgusting over-reach.
ps. I remember when I was an Engineer working for an Evil Defense Contractor, I turned in a preference card to Unionize. When the vote came down, the it was a ‘negative’
That is the process, kids. Tell your Union A-Holes to back the Eff Off….. They are embarrassing themselves as well…..