Yale graduate student teachers protest at Class Day

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–Yale University held its Class Day on Sunday, with graduation set for Monday. Some graduate students are using the two days to make their voices heard about unionization.

Class Day brought graduates and their families together, one day before graduation. That was not the only gathering on campus on Sunday, however. LGBTQ activist Cleve Jones met with a group of Yale graduate teachers and their supporters as they continue their protest.

“These kinds of struggles often take a long time,” said Jones. “They have taken their place in a great historic progression of people who are fighting for justice.”

In February, graduate teachers voted to form a union with Local 33 – UNITE HERE. They say Yale has refused to negotiate. Last month they began an indefinite fast in protest. They met with Jones on Sunday evening outside the university president’s office, where they have set up camp.

“We want to make sure the university is very aware that there is an easy way to end this conflict,” said Aaron Greenberg, chair of Local 33 UNITE- HERE.

The graduate teachers and their supporters are planning to demonstrate outside commencement. Many of the students who will be graduating say they do not want the ceremony to be disrupted.

“I just hope commencement goes as expected and that all our families can celebrate the happy occasion,” said Juan Pablo Gonzalez, who will be graduating on Monday.

Graduate teachers want it to be an opportunity to congratulate the graduates and to urge the Yale administration to negotiate.

“This is a wonderful occasion and we’re not here to disrupt it,” said Jones. “We want people to pay attention though to these very critical issues.”

Yale University gave News 8 a statement saying, in part, “Yale strongly values freedom of expression and respects the protesters’ right to demonstrate, but does not tolerate disruption at University events and activities or interference with speakers. We will work to ensure that commencement is a positive celebration for graduating students and their families.”

Commencement is scheduled for Monday morning.

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