NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Music superstar Melissa Etheridge added a big appearance in New Haven before her concert tonight. She showed up on campus at Yale University to show support for graduate student-teachers who are fighting to start their own union at Yale. The students have been protesting because they say the president of Yale and the administration refuses to meet with them and start negotiations. The students have been fasting for a full week as a form of protest.
“We’re fighting for our seat at the table to negotiate,” Aaron Greenburg said.
He admits the seven days without food is starting to take its toll.
“I feel tired in a way I haven’t experienced before,” he said.
The other protesters who were camped out at their makeshift headquarters on campus, were getting medical check-ups when Grammy award-winning artist, Melissa Etheridge, showed up. Her appearance gave them an energy boost. She spent time talking with students and shaking hands. Etheridge says this was no photo-op. She says she showed up because she believes in unions and fighting for workers and what these students are fighting for.
“It’s so important, in any field, that their representation, their American rights are not being overlooked, disregarded,” Etheridge said. “The rights of unions — to assemble, to vote — to be heard — that’s just American and what’s at play here is just so very un-American. Very un-Yale.”
“What America needs are places of higher learning to really step up and guide in this day,” she said. “It’s very disheartening to see Yale choose the low road when they can step up and lead.”
Greenburg says they’ll continue to fast until that happens or until they’re physically able to. He was pumped up by the visit from Etheridge.
“Oh it’s so awesome to get that kind of support,” he said.
News8 asked Melissa Etheridge what message she wants to the students to take away from her visit: “Stay strong just stay strong,” she said.