Graduate Students at Yale Have Been on Hunger Strike for Weeks

It has to do with their right to unionize
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2017 8:14 PM CDT
Graduate Students at Yale Have Been on Hunger Strike for Weeks
This Sept. 9, 2016 photo shows Harkness Tower on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Conn.   (AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)

The hunger strike underway by graduate students at Yale hit the two-week mark earlier this week, WFSB reports. Graduate students (who also act as instructors) from eight academic departments that voted to unionize have been protesting in front of Yale President Peter Salovey's office because he won't negotiate with them, and four of those students have been refusing to eat as part of the protest—though nurses made four other hunger strikers quit due to health concerns. (They were replaced by four others.) As WFSB notes, the strike on the New Haven, Conn., campus has gained widespread attention, but neither side appears on the verge of giving in.

The New York Times explains the background of the protest—the National Labor Relations Board ruled last August that graduate teachers at private universities are employees and can therefore unionize—and notes that Salovey is likely stalling until President Trump appoints new members to the board, since those members will likely be anti-union and may overturn the ruling. Per Jennifer Klein at the Times, the protest is necessary as universities rely more and more on graduate students "and other low-paid contingent faculty members" to teach their students, yet fail to provide those teachers with adequate pay, health care, or other benefits. But at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Amy Hungerford paints the protesters as "relatively privileged citizens" whose strike is misguided. (More Yale University stories.)

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