Harvard TFs Happy; See No Labor Problems

Graduate Students Give Their Reaction to NLRB Complaint Lodged by Yale TAs

While at Harvard there is nary a whisper of discontent among graduate students, the Yale administration is preparing to defend itself against its own graduate students who lodged a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board for unfair labor practices during last spring's teaching assistant (TA) strike.

Unlike their Yale peers, Harvard teaching fellows (TF) say they are satisfied with their jobs thanks to fair pay and positive working relationships.

Benjamin F. Burger, a fourth-year student in government at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said that Harvard TFs are fairly well paid, so "there doesn't seem to be a lot of discontent for that reason alone."

Money is not the only reason Harvard has not experienced a similar strike, Burger said.

"People tend to teach for their advisors so it is sort of a nurturing thing which leads to a good working relationship," he said.


Other TFs agreed that cultural differences between the two universities contributed to the lack of labor agitation at Harvard.

"It's sort of an anti-intellectual thing to do," said one graduate student who asked to remain anonymous. The student has friends who are TAs at Yale and has been a TF at Harvard in the past.

One graduate student who had considered attending Yale said graduate students there were not appreciated to the same extent as they are at Harvard. She also asked to remain anonymous.

She said she noticed a strong "misery component" at Yale.

"They were unhappy and they were really, really poor," she said.

Some Yale TAs fell they are coerced into teaching and then paid a low wage, she said. Also, there is an atmosphere at Yale in which graduate students are not appreciated.

However, the TF said that Harvard graduate students have access to a variety of monetary resources, such as fellowships and research jobs.

As a result, graduate students choose to be TFs because they are interested in teaching, not because of financial pressure.

Also, Harvard TFs said they felt valued by the university and have no motivation to strike.

Leandro R. Arozamena, a TF for Social Analysis 10: "Principles of Economics," said he was focused on his work and "that idea never even came to my mind."