On Thursday, November 16, at 5:30 PM, Yale students and their allies met at the Hall of Graduate Studies to march in support of Local 33 and the elimination of the Student Income Contribution. The event was entitled, “March for an Academy That’s Ours.” It was led by the group Students Unite Now in partnership with Local 33.
The event description on Facebook for the march reads as follows:
Low-income students, students of color, and queer and trans students already face many barriers to access the resources we need, and the university only sets up more hurdles for us by keeping the Student Income Contribution and refusing to negotiate with Local 33. We stand for something better. We stand for a Yale where students on financial aid have the time and resources to learn and thrive, instead of worrying about paying the Student Income Contribution. We stand for a Yale where our graduate teachers have a union to advocate for the changes they need to succeed and foster a genuinely inclusive learning environment across the academy. We stand for a Yale where we all have what we need to fully access the resources here—we stand for an academy that is truly ours.
The Politic covered the rally, taking video footage and conducting interviews with marchers.
Footage of the March
Hey hey, ho ho, that contribution has got to go.
An Interview with Naomi D’arbell Bobadilla ’21
Naomi D’arbell Bobadilla ’21: I’m Naomi. My story surrounding the student income contribution has to do with the fact that my very first month at Yale would not have been possible if it weren’t for the fact that my hometown gave me an outside scholarship that they paid directly to me. The financial aid was simply not enough to get me from Texas to New Haven, to get me my textbooks for my classes, to get me basic furniture for my dorm room. It was not enough. And compounded on that, even with these outside scholarships, I am still needing to work, because I don’t have parents I can turn back to and say ‘I need this amount of money for this thing that is really important.’ And so, although my scholarships are enough to cover my student income contribution this year, they are not enough to provide me with a padding in case anything should happen to me. This is something I think should not be on my mind, causing anxiety, in addition to the stress that comes along with being at Yale and bettering myself and contributing all the things that I have to contribute that are not dollars and cents.
Interviews with Julia Salseda ’19
The Politic: What do you want the biggest takeaway to be for President Salovey [from this rally]?
Julia Salseda ’19: I think that Yale puts up a lot of barriers to low-income students, students of color, students from all backgrounds, and for the kind of Yale University that I want, Yale needs to negotiate with Local 33 and eliminate the student income contribution. Those barriers are not going to go away until those things happen.
The Politic: What would you like to see from the partnership between Local 33 and [Students Unite Now]? How will that play out?
Julia Salseda ’19: For me the biggest takeaway from this campaign and what we’ve been doing over the past few months is that there are lots of things Yale does to make it harder to be a low-income student on this campus, to feel like you can belong at Yale, to feel like you can be here. I’m not sure if you’re an undergraduate student…but for me the most important thing is that we continue fighting for everyone who is at Yale to feel like they’re here on equal footing.
What are some of the barriers for low-income students at Yale?
I think the student income contribution is one of them. It manifests in a lot of different ways, and one of them is obviously having to work a lot. But I think that it spreads across campus in different ways as well. For me, I know in my freshman year I was in DS, and as far as I’ve been able to tell from Facebook I was the only Latina in the entire cohort of a hundred students. That makes sense, because DS is a self-selecting group, and the people who believe they can spend the time doing all the readings, writing a paper every week, or people who feel like they can join the YDN, the people who feel like they can participate in these high-time extracurriculars, are also people who are not working to pay this student income contribution. I think this makes a lot of different extracurricular spaces at Yale much less diverse, and that’s to the detriment of everybody here.
An Interview with Hannah Lee ’20
Hannah Lee ’20: I’m Hannah. I’m a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College, and I am also on financial aid, but my personal stake here is in Local 33. Coming from my family background, my grandmothers have faced sexual harassment in their workplaces. This is largely coming from there being no union in South Korea. To hear these stories from my family and see that being repeated here at an academy where I am supposed to be learning, where people are supposed to be learning, it not just hurtful. I think it’s a culture that needs to be changed. I think Yale has immense power here to change the culture across the country and just change the culture for grad students in general.
The Politic: When Salovey says to low-income students that they need to have their skin in the game, what is your response?
Like Julia said, we have our skin in the game, and this is our school too. This is not something that is a war; we want to be a part of a better Yale.
Keerthana Annamaneni ’20 contributed footage.