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Yale Draws Line in Sand for TAs

Striking Graduate Students Told to Submit Grades by Tomorrow

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP)--Yale University has given striking graduate students until noon tomorrow to turn in undergraduates' fall semester grades or face losing their teaching appointments for the next semester.

The deadline came in a letter to part-time acting instructors--graduate students who run their own classes.

"We undertake this course of action with great regret," the letter said. "The time has come when we must address the deliberate refusal of some graduate students."

The letter was signed by Yale President Richard C. Levin, Provost Alison Richard, Graduate School Dean Thomas Appelquist and undergraduate Yale College Dean Richard H. Brodhead.

The graduate students, who teach the humanities and social sciences, have instituted the "grade strike" in a bid to be recognized as a union by Yale.

They want higher teaching stipends, lower health-insurance costs, smaller classes, more teacher training and a procedure to air grievances.

The group, called the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, has said grades will be withheld until Yale's administration agrees to negotiate for a contract. No talks are scheduled.

The original deadline for the grades was Jan. . The missing grades weren't an immediate crisis for undergraduates. They are on winter break, with classes not scheduled to resume until Jan. 15. They typically get their grades then and most parents receive the marks about two weeks later.

The teaching group represents about 25 percent of the total 2,500 graduate students. Yale maintains that they don't have the right to strike because they are students, not employees.

The letter was aimed at 29 out of a total 135 part-time acting instructors. Thus far, those 29 have failed to turn in approximately 435 grades to the university registrar, said Yale spokesperson Gary Fryer.

However, it was unclear whether the missing grades were due solely to the grade strike or other circumstances, Fryer said.

Robin Brown, group chair and a part-time acting instructor, said Friday she will continue to withhold the grades for her first-year English course.

"It's a serious threat. That's the money I use to live on," Brown said, "We're beginning to prepare for the worst. Our plans are to fight it."

A similar letter will be sent in the coming days to graduate students who act as teaching assistants for classes run by professors, administrators said, Many of those 304 graduate students teach discussion sections in Large lecture classes.

The university was still canvassing professors Friday to determine how many of the assistants had withheld grades. The Tuesday deadline does not apply to them, although a deadline will be given to them, Fryer said.

The group claims about 240 graduate students have refused to turn in marks. Union organizer and former Yale graduate student Gordon Lafer said the graduate students stand firm despite the threat of losing their jobs.

"Their tactics have been to talk tough to try to scare people, but I don't think this is going to have any affect on the strike," he said. "This just shows a lot of what's wrong here and why people want a union."

The group questions the integrity of some of the grades that are being turned in by professors without the graduate students' help.

Appelquist and Brodhead instructed faculty members to grade final exams themselves if necessary. Some professors even asked the undergraduates to grade themselves on class participation and to report what they received for midterm grades.

"The transcripts will go forward with cooked up grades," said Andrew Dimock, a teaching assistant in the English Department who has refused to submit grades for his American literature class. "This will hurt the integrity of a Yale grade."

The move also will hurt the graduate students' pocketbooks. The average teaching stipend per semester is about $4,900. Graduate students who don't receive financial aid would lose the money outright. Those on financial aid would be able to apply for grants or students loans, Fryer said.

Brown and Dimock said most graduate students already are deep in debt from students loans and would be loathe to take on more liabilities.

"It's intimidating, I buy food with that money. I pay rent, utility bills," Brown said. "If they were to lock us out of teaching positions, it's either loans or another job."

Union spokesperson Deborah Chernoff said the move might force some graduate students to drop out of school and added that foreign graduate students might have a rough time because they can't get work visas.

For some graduate students, the threat of losing their teaching post or letters of recommendation hit home. One graduate student in the language department who wished to remain anonymous said he submitted his grades, though he is a member of the group.

"It's a very dirty tactic but effective. At that point, I really felt there was nothing I could do. I felt I wouldn't give up my academic career for a cause, even though it's an extremely important cause," he said

The teaching group represents about 25 percent of the total 2,500 graduate students. Yale maintains that they don't have the right to strike because they are students, not employees.

The letter was aimed at 29 out of a total 135 part-time acting instructors. Thus far, those 29 have failed to turn in approximately 435 grades to the university registrar, said Yale spokesperson Gary Fryer.

However, it was unclear whether the missing grades were due solely to the grade strike or other circumstances, Fryer said.

Robin Brown, group chair and a part-time acting instructor, said Friday she will continue to withhold the grades for her first-year English course.

"It's a serious threat. That's the money I use to live on," Brown said, "We're beginning to prepare for the worst. Our plans are to fight it."

A similar letter will be sent in the coming days to graduate students who act as teaching assistants for classes run by professors, administrators said, Many of those 304 graduate students teach discussion sections in Large lecture classes.

The university was still canvassing professors Friday to determine how many of the assistants had withheld grades. The Tuesday deadline does not apply to them, although a deadline will be given to them, Fryer said.

The group claims about 240 graduate students have refused to turn in marks. Union organizer and former Yale graduate student Gordon Lafer said the graduate students stand firm despite the threat of losing their jobs.

"Their tactics have been to talk tough to try to scare people, but I don't think this is going to have any affect on the strike," he said. "This just shows a lot of what's wrong here and why people want a union."

The group questions the integrity of some of the grades that are being turned in by professors without the graduate students' help.

Appelquist and Brodhead instructed faculty members to grade final exams themselves if necessary. Some professors even asked the undergraduates to grade themselves on class participation and to report what they received for midterm grades.

"The transcripts will go forward with cooked up grades," said Andrew Dimock, a teaching assistant in the English Department who has refused to submit grades for his American literature class. "This will hurt the integrity of a Yale grade."

The move also will hurt the graduate students' pocketbooks. The average teaching stipend per semester is about $4,900. Graduate students who don't receive financial aid would lose the money outright. Those on financial aid would be able to apply for grants or students loans, Fryer said.

Brown and Dimock said most graduate students already are deep in debt from students loans and would be loathe to take on more liabilities.

"It's intimidating, I buy food with that money. I pay rent, utility bills," Brown said. "If they were to lock us out of teaching positions, it's either loans or another job."

Union spokesperson Deborah Chernoff said the move might force some graduate students to drop out of school and added that foreign graduate students might have a rough time because they can't get work visas.

For some graduate students, the threat of losing their teaching post or letters of recommendation hit home. One graduate student in the language department who wished to remain anonymous said he submitted his grades, though he is a member of the group.

"It's a very dirty tactic but effective. At that point, I really felt there was nothing I could do. I felt I wouldn't give up my academic career for a cause, even though it's an extremely important cause," he said

The group claims about 240 graduate students have refused to turn in marks. Union organizer and former Yale graduate student Gordon Lafer said the graduate students stand firm despite the threat of losing their jobs.

"Their tactics have been to talk tough to try to scare people, but I don't think this is going to have any affect on the strike," he said. "This just shows a lot of what's wrong here and why people want a union."

The group questions the integrity of some of the grades that are being turned in by professors without the graduate students' help.

Appelquist and Brodhead instructed faculty members to grade final exams themselves if necessary. Some professors even asked the undergraduates to grade themselves on class participation and to report what they received for midterm grades.

"The transcripts will go forward with cooked up grades," said Andrew Dimock, a teaching assistant in the English Department who has refused to submit grades for his American literature class. "This will hurt the integrity of a Yale grade."

The move also will hurt the graduate students' pocketbooks. The average teaching stipend per semester is about $4,900. Graduate students who don't receive financial aid would lose the money outright. Those on financial aid would be able to apply for grants or students loans, Fryer said.

Brown and Dimock said most graduate students already are deep in debt from students loans and would be loathe to take on more liabilities.

"It's intimidating, I buy food with that money. I pay rent, utility bills," Brown said. "If they were to lock us out of teaching positions, it's either loans or another job."

Union spokesperson Deborah Chernoff said the move might force some graduate students to drop out of school and added that foreign graduate students might have a rough time because they can't get work visas.

For some graduate students, the threat of losing their teaching post or letters of recommendation hit home. One graduate student in the language department who wished to remain anonymous said he submitted his grades, though he is a member of the group.

"It's a very dirty tactic but effective. At that point, I really felt there was nothing I could do. I felt I wouldn't give up my academic career for a cause, even though it's an extremely important cause," he said

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