On Friday, the YDN published a staff editorial to the effect that GESO is right to try to fix things that are wrong with Yale, only they should give up on doing it in ways that institutionally empower some of the people affected, and if they want anyone’s support they should stop being so mean by implying that there are things that are wrong with Yale. Today, Tasha Eccles and Frances Kelley each respond. As Tasha writes:
The issues that GESO has been committed to over the last few years — diversity, child care for graduate student parents, a more equitable relationship with New Haven and support and training for graduate teachers — are ones that are deeply important to me as an undergraduate. And at a time when, as Friday’s editorial so accurately pointed out, “graduate student life has plenty of room for improvement,” it is critical that we have groups like GESO holding Yale accountable to the ideals it publicly espouses — ideals like diversity, quality of teaching and equality of experience. Indeed, I would argue that a university whose tenured faculty includes only one black woman and that fails to support the graduate students who do much of the teaching here, has lots of “room for improvement.” And isn’t that really the point? This is not about Yale being a bad place, but about the fact that, with the right priorities and a real commitment to change, it can be a much better one.
And as Frances argues:
Undergraduates and graduate students do have a common interest in the issues GESO is fighting for, especially issues such as the lack of diversity among tenured Yale faculty and the need for better teacher training for TAs. Yet it is not enough to believe that Yale needs these changes; we must work to make them a reality. The News does not seem to understand how change happens. In the past, Yale has never taken serious steps toward reform without pressure from students and workers, actions that communicate to the administration just how serious we are about the need for change. Some of Yale’s problems may not be that easy to resolve, but they are so important that Yale needs to address them. Indeed, there’s a bigger issue at stake here: making the university more democratic. Yale’s decisions and policies directly affect us; therefore, we should all have a voice in addressing them. For TAs, that voice is a recognized union.