Volume 55 - Issue 1

Page 1

Graduate students demand a union contract and a more democratic university. Will Yale listen?

September 2022 The Magazine About Yale & New Haven Volume 55, Issue 1 HIGH TIDE
The Politics of Yale’s Power Plants Saachi Grewal A Eulogy for the Berkeley Woodshop Austin Todd Old Bones, New Eyes Daniella Sanchez 8 524 by the BEST MAGAZINESTUDENT INTHE COUNTRYSocietyofProfessional Journalists Named The

Letter from the Editors

Dear readers,

It started with a key and a health hazard.

They led us to the room. A busted couch, some metal drawers labeled Biz-Nass, filing pockets we’ve since swapped for Google Drive folders, a few ancient Mac desktops, someone named Jessica’s to-do list, a massive closet of archives dating back fiftyfive years, and a wood-lacquered fridge filled with God-knows-what and God-knows-how-much black mold—signs of a former New Journal life. We burst inside, and began gathering scraps of editors’ past.

We could spend this whole let ter telling you the otherwise under whelming story of how The New Journal lost touch with its headquar ters for a few years. Or we could tell you about the hours we spent clear ing the room so it could be rid of its biohazard and reunited with us. But we’ll spare those details. Instead, like we think good journalists do, we’d like to focus on something more ambitious—the collision between this dusty office and the magazine you’re holding in your hands.

The New Journal exists with or without a room. For the past few years, it’s been spread out over Zoom screens, a lonely seminar room in Davenport College, some cluttered tables in Berkeley College’s Mendenhall room, and the apart ment living rooms of this Managing Board, where we’ve pored over Google Docs and diction. A mag azine doesn’t need a home to be made, maybe because it’s one of the most people-intensive things you can do, and a collection of people is in itself a kind of place.

But it sure is nice to have a place, despite all that. And what’s inside these pages demonstrates why. In Volume 55, Issue 1 of The New Journal, place is everywhere.

Two pieces look at the hid den costs of making Yale a place for students. Our cover story, by Abbey Kim, follows the graduate student workers whose experience of Yale as a work place have long been invalidated by Yale’s failure to recognize their union, Local 33— but that may change soon. Saachi Grewal tunnels through the dark underbelly of Yale’s power plants, surfacing with the realization that the comforts of campus we don’t really think about—heating, elec tricity—have come at an indefensi ble cost to not only the planet, but also its power plants’ employees.

In the rest of the magazine, you’ll find other revisitations of for gotten places—made all the more real and immortal through the phe nomenal visual imaginations of our designers and Creative Director, Kevin Chen. We wander backwards in time, into natural history muse ums, New Haven’s Institute Library, a Pac-Man machine, the Berkeley College Woodshop, a house sur rendered to a wildfire—and with a personal essay, at the end of the magazine, we go home.

Putting out a magazine is like jumping off a cliff you’ve run a marathon to get to. As it should. Now it’s out of our hands, and in yours, where it belongs. These pages were made to be turned, folded, cut-up, spilled on and stowed away into your rooms’ shelves, corners, and crevices. They’re meant to be forgotten, then rediscovered, without having to locate a key or exterminator.

In his piece, Austin Todd urges us to hold on tightly, let go lightly He put it well. We’re letting go, and we’re going home.

—The Managing Board

Editors-in-Chief Nicole Dirks

Dereen Shirnekhi

Executive Editor Jesse Goodman

Managing Editor J.D. Wright

Associate Editors

Amal Biskin Abbey Kim

Meg Buzbee Yosef Malka

Jabez Choi Cleo Maloney

Lazo Gitchos Paola Santos

Ella Goldblum Kylie Volavongsa

Yonatan Greenberg

Senior Editors

Beasie Goddu Madison Hahamy

Copy Editors

Marie Bong Edie Lipsey

Adrian Elizalde Lukas Trelease

Rafaela Kottou Yingying Zhao

Creative Director Kevin Chen

Design Editors

Meg Buzbee Charlotte Rica

Camille Chang Karela Palazio

Photography Lukas Flippo

Members & Directors: Emily Bazelon • Peter Cooper • Jonathan Dach • Kathrin Lassila • Eric Rutkow • Elizabeth Sledge • Jim Sleeper • Fred Strebeigh • Aliyya Swaby

Advisors: Neela Banerjee • Richard Bradley • Susan Braudy • Lincoln Caplan • Jay Carney • Andy Court • Joshua Civin • Richard Conniff • Ruth Conniff • Elisha Cooper • Susan Dominus • David Greenberg • Daniel Kurtz-Phelan • Laura Pappano • Jennifer Pitts • Julia Preston • Lauren Rawbin • David Slifka • John Swansburg • Anya Kamenetz • Steven Weisman • Daniel Yergin

Friends: Nicole Allan • Margaret Bauer • Mark Badger and Laura Heymann • Anson M. Beard

• Susan Braudy • Julia Calagiovanni • Elisha Cooper • Haley Cohen • Peter Cooper • Andy Court • The Elizabethan Club • Leslie Dach

• David Freeman and Judith Gingold • Paul Haigney and Tracey Roberts • Bob Lamm • James Liberman • Alka Mansukhani • Benjamin Mueller • Sophia Nguyen • Valerie Nierenberg • Morris Panner • Jennifer Pitts • R. Anthony Reese

• Eric Rutkow • Lainie Rutkow • Laura Saavedra and David Buckley • Anne-Marie Slaughter • Elizabeth Sledge • Caroline Smith • Gabriel Snyder • Elizabeth Steig • Aliyya Swaby • John Jeremiah Sullivan • Daphne and David Sydney • Kristian and Margarita Whiteleather • Blake Townsend Wilson • Daniel Yergin • William Yuen

2 September 2022 The New Journal

Abbey Kim

points of departure

Saachi Grewal

Daniella Sanchez

Shane Zhang

Jesse Goodman Jack Delaney Beasie Goddu Zawar Ahmed

Jesse Goodman

4 10 24 8 30 32 7 29 38 29 39

Meg Buzbee and Anya Razmi explore The Institute Library; Austin Todd eulogizes the Berkeley woodshop.


High Tide

Graduate students demand a union contract and a more democratic university. Will Yale listen?

critical angle Power Politics

Yale’s power plants have never been able to meet the standard of clean energy and safe working conditions. A writer takes a look inside.


Old Bones

Daniella Sanchez reconnects with childhood wonder at the Peabody.

The Holy Bible: Annotated and Abridged

A Yale student learns how not to read. Homebound Lotus-eating among the cherry blossoms. poems

Leaving Struer Opie

This morning I drew... [Untitled] arts

Clown by the Train crossword Classroom Hijinks

3The New Journal September 2022 September 2022 Volume 55, Issue 1

since 1967

Between the Books

“In the nineteenth century, we were the center of intellectual ferment in the town,” said Marlowe. Despite New Haven’s conservatism at the time, members hosted speakers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, and women’s rights activist Anna E. Dickinson.

Nearly a decade ago, novelist and editor Ann Marlowe walked into the Institute Library on Chapel Street for the first time. She came in for one of their evening events—“probably one I saw in the paper,” she recalled. Immediately, she knew this was a spe cial place. Now, so many years later, Marlowe is still a dedicated volunteer.

Passing through the library’s wooden doors, it’s hard not to share Marlowe’s fascination. Near the entrance sits a globe so old that Thailand is labeled “Siam.” Propped up on one of the shelves is a series of mounted insects, each painstakingly labeled behind a glass frame: a black swallowtail—Papilio polyxenes —or the green-clouded butterfly, Papilio troilus. Canoe paddles, hand-painted, hang from the ceiling. There are ancientlooking busts wearing surgical masks, an impressive vinyl collection, and posters boasting the subjects of some of the library’s most iconic evening workshops: Taxidermy, Theories in Time Travel, Ultimate Origami.

Muted light filters through the windows into the front room. “This is the place for people who want a rare, quiet space,” said Jan Swiatek, Executive Director of the Institute Library. A loyal group of writers, stu dents, and editors frequent this private membership library, where it is easy to be inspired by its rare collections and rich history.

Founded in 1826, the library was originally called the Young Men’s Institute Library, and served as a center for academic development. “This was a time where you were lucky to get a fifth grade education from public schools,” explained Marlowe.

In response, a group of men pooled their resources and acquired patronage from elders in the New Haven com munity to found a new library. By 1835, women had joined the membership, and a few years later, the space became a hub for abolitionist activity.

Today, the library’s membership is around 220, significantly smaller than it was in the mid-twentieth century, when it peaked at around eight hundred.

are common issues: peeling paint and a leaky roof, for instance, which the board just received two million dol lars in state funding to fix, largely to cover historical preservation costs. Other problems are less orthodox. The library uses a unique classifica tion system called the Borden System, which was created and implemented by the library’s first professional librar ian, William Alanson Borden, in 1887. Maintaining this esoteric categoriza tion is a never-ending challenge.

“We love the Borden system be cause it’s ours, and it’s historic, and it was born here,” said Swiatek. “But flex ibility is not its middle name.”

The librarians still use the original card catalogs to log and organize their thirty thousand books. In the center of the first floor, in a set of drawers, thou sands of index cards are divided into twenty-six base classes, each lettered a through z, with subjects ranging from “Principal Continental Literatures” to “Philology” to “Amusements.”

“[The library] is not a place with an endowment or a huge financial stream of resources,” said Ott. “It survived, all this time, without attachments to a patron donor. It’s always been supported by the community. And it’s open to all.”

A portion of its income comes from annual membership fees. The cost starts at $30, though some choose to renew their fees up to $135, earning patron membership, to support the library’s mission. Only members can check out books, but the space is free for public use.

Much of the library today remains just as it was in the eighteen-hun dreds. Maryann Ott, a member of the Institute Library Board, noticed this the first time she walked in. “Just the way it smelled, the way it looked, the colors, the books, and the people I felt like I had been transported back in time.”

Although members like Ott are charmed by the library’s shabbiness, its age comes with challenges. Some

The Borden System is less specific than the widely-used Dewey Decimal System, created by Melvil Dewey a decade earlier. A book in Dewey’s sys tem is assigned a number—741.821, for example. Each place value rep resents a category: 700 for Arts and Recreation, 40 for Illustration, 1 for Book Illustration, and so on. In Borden’s system, the same book might be labeled “J26,” with the letter representing a

The card catalogue, organized in the BordenClassification System, sit in wooden drawers,linked together by a small string of twine. Green floors that reflect the skylight and paintedoars mark the entrance of the institue library. photos by anya razmi
4 September 2022 The New Journal
Points of Departure

category—Fine Arts—and the num ber representing the subcategory— Illustration. Unlike in Dewey’s system, further subcategorization is arbitrary: archivists often sort further using only a handwritten note or description. One index card at the library, labeled “O5,” includes only the name of the book, “Uses of Diversity,” and a bizarre col lection of essay titles: “Questions of Divorce,” “Yule Log and the Democrat,” “More Thoughts on Christmas.”

In 1910, Borden was enlisted by an Indian prince, Maharaja Sayajirao iii, to install his classification system in libraries throughout Baroda, a state of the British Raj located in modern-day Gujarat. By 1913, there were only two places in the world that used Borden’s system: the Institute Library in New Haven, and the public library system in Baroda, India.

“I have to tell you, [Borden’s] is not an easy system to understand,” Ott said. “Which is probably why Dewey’s won out over Borden’s.” Eventually, Baroda, too, switched to the Dewey Decimal System.

The Institute Library is less will ing to change. Members and volun teers recoil at the mention of making the switch. “Borden was an import ant librarian,” said Ott, “and [his sys tem] is one of the things that makes us unique.” Seven thousand book titles are digitized, but hand-written index cards are still the primary tools for finding and sorting books. Members like Marlowe are currently working on digitizing the library’s essay collection, though this is no small task.

“Oh, boy, would we love volunteers. We would be able to expand our hours,” Swiatek said. “And we’d love to get more of the books into the computer.”

A dedicated group of members, largely older New Haven residents and avid readers, liven up the library. On Fridays, Frank Cochrane, one of the library’s most active members, leads a weekly jazz night.

“There’s a core group that usually shows up…maybe fifteen to twenty on a busy night,” Swiatek explained. “[Frank] is just so knowledgeable. You just sit for half an hour and listen to him . . . This week he’s doing the early years of Duke Ellington.” It’s Frank’s personal vinyl collection that fills the second floor.

At biweekly sewing socials, fashion designers mingle with master beaders and fiber artists, one of which designed the canoe paddles hanging in the main room. There are Story Nights—sort of. “Connecticut’s version of ‘The Moth,’” as Swiatek puts it—and author talks. On Saturdays, the art gallery on the second floor hosts shows. And there’s still more to come: when asked about her favorite community event, Marlowe grinned. “It’s still a secret,” she said— but it’s set to begin in the fall.

Now, reflecting on her first time visiting the library, Marlowe is glad she took a chance on the newspaper adver tisement almost ten years prior.

“When I walked through the door I thought, ‘Oh my god, I never want to leave,’” she said. “And I haven’t.”

—Meg Buzbee and Anya Razmi are juniors in Pierson College. Meg is also an Associate Editor of The New Journal.

joiner, the lathe corner and the stacks of various boards and plywood—some how none of it really got in your way. For almost everyone I spoke with, the workshop was their escape from aca demic pressure. Over the years, and with Mark’s tutelage, this hidden com munity created blanket chests, sparring dummies, conductors’ batons, coffee tables with inlaid chess boards, salad bowls, hand-turned pens—all of a qual ity one would have trouble attributing to the untrained hands of undergraduates.

“The place used to be humming,” Mark told me. “People coming in, having fun, ideas on the table.”

Today, the room that once housed the woodshop sits nearly empty, with only a couple computers and a couch. Maybe if you’re lucky you can spot a bit of sawdust still nestled beneath the baseboards.

Hold On Tightly, Let Go Lightly

One evening last summer, while working in Berlin, I gave Mark a call. Ever since the start of the pandemic, we’ve chatted and caught up every now and then. We spoke for a few hours— with one brief interruption as Mark greeted a prospective blueberry picker and directed them to the patch behind his house—and we discussed his retire ment, the projects he’s still working on, Berlin, and finally, the woodshop.

“Do you think it’ll ever make a comeback?”

“No,” he said, flippant. “I’ll put it this way. How many darkrooms are left on campus?”

The first thing I noticed was the smell. Cedar pitch, freshly sawn pine, and a trace of coffee from the manager Mark’s travel mug, steam ing on a countertop. The characteristic smells of a woodshop—to be precise, the Berkeley woodshop. That fall in 2019, I spent many Saturday mornings working on a small table, trimming and planing elm boards for the surface, cut ting mahogany legs with a jigsaw and sanding them smooth. It took months to finish, and I was proud of it. For a while the table lived in my suite, but eventually I moved it to the Silliman art room, giving the still-sharp smell of the varnish time to air out.

For thirty years the woodshop was open to anyone who would wake up at 9 a.m. on a Saturday—and many did. It was a small space, but efficiently laid out. The large table saw, the dark green

The answer is not many, and access to those remaining is limited. Wood working has gone in the same direc tion. While there are workshops for wood sculpture and some facilities in the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design (ceid), these are spaces restricted to students in the relevant classes, offer little to no guidance, or require an obstructive amount of train ing. And anyway, cutting plywood sheets on a cnc machine feels different than watching wood curl away under neath a sharp plane.

When I ask why Mark thinks the woodshop closed, his voice is solemn but his answer’s tongue-in-cheek: “It was YouTube.” Students can put on a woodworking video and get the satis faction of watching someone make something without the trouble of actu ally doing it themselves. Maybe so.

5The New Journal September 2022 Points of Departure
illustrations & layout by meg buzbee

Points of Departure

But it’d be impossible to pin down exactly why the woodshop closed; there are so many plausible reasons. Saws are dangerous, students are busy, and instant gratification really is nice! By and large the digital age has set traditional woodworking on uncertain footing, not to mention that “Saturday Morning Woodshop Hobbyist” is hardly prime resumé material. And this story isn’t new: the woodshop’s popu larity had been waning for years before Covid—some Saturday mornings in 2019 it was just the two of us, and maybe a friend I brought along that day. Teru, who was a student during the late nineteen-nineties, was just amazed the Berkeley woodshop lasted as long as it did.

The story of the Berkeley woodshop now resembles many of the projects that began there. A half-turned wooden cup, a chess set missing everything but pawns, two table legs abandoned on a shelf. We set down our tools and things remain incomplete, leaving behind ghostly traces. Or specks of sawdust.

Yet it doesn’t all disappear: people got more from the shop than simply the satisfaction of making something with their hands. One woodshop alum, now a plastic surgeon, left Yale with both a rock maple trestle-style coffee table and one of Mark’s adages: If you don’t have time to do it right, you don’t have time to do it twice. Another told me

that whenever he sees a ginkgo tree or tries to touch his toes, he thinks of Mark and the woodshop. He and his wife still use a mahogany salad bowl that Mark turned for them as a wed ding gift nearly every day.

The woodshop was an imperfect space. It was loud, the students often inefficient, and when Mark describes himself he often favors “grumpy old man.” But something special wove all of this together, something that now lives in the past. I don’t mean this in a let’s-try-to-revive-it way. Some things can’t be brought back and that’s okay. Instead, I’m remembering a phrase my ceramics teacher said sometimes when she sold or accidentally broke her pottery: hold on tightly, let go lightly

I imagine Mark driving south down I-91, as the 8 a.m. sun peeks through autumn foliage, or wintry snow-laden branches, or the fresh leaves in spring; this, nearly every Saturday of every semester for thirty years. I imag ine a student finally turning a bowl that doesn’t crack, someone laugh ing from the adrenaline of cutting a board on the table-saw, a student tak ing the first seat on a lacquered chair they’ve been working on all semester. I imagine Mark smiling with them.

On the phone, Mark told me that on every job—whether it’s building a kitchen or restoring a dresser—you always end up bleeding a little. For most

of his career he’d wipe this inevitable bit of blood off. These days, he leaves it on, sealing it over with a layer of Shellac. “It’s like saying I was there.”

When I returned to campus in 2021, the table I’d made in the wood shop was gone. Maybe it’s my fault for leaving it in the Silliman art room, but in any case, it’s gone, and it’s alright. Sometimes I show people pictures, say ing maybe one day it’ll show up. And sometimes, I call Mark and remember the woodshop.

—Austin Todd is a senior in Pierson College.

Flames devoured the hillsides, exhaling conical smoke lines like the growing plumes of an old steam locomotive. From the heat changes, a northbound wind rose, scaling the marsh’s cattail walls. These grasses shifted as one infinite and limbless mass. But they remained, rooted in that spot, under the expanding gray air. Another gust delivered itself to the marsh, and those shaking bulrushes smacked together with a seeded, vibrating crack. With each ensuing blow more cattails burst in couplets. The smoke swallowed all shore greenery.

In his half of the wall-split home off the street on Holt Drive, the man with a pacemaker in his chest waits. “I am moving to those foothills beyond me,” he nods. He palms his chest, coughs, “Yes. I will move to the low foothills.” Outside, birch leaves trembled like a thou sand tambourines.

He forgets, now, to close the win dows. The room fills with ash flakes. He wipes the table to set for dinner.

The woodshop in 1992, before it moved to its later place in the Berkeley basement. Prior to thisthe shop had been largely defunct, but that year Mark came in and revitalized the project. Mark Messier / Courtesy Berkeley Woodshop Wildfire (or August 7, near the bend on Holt Drive)
6 September 2022 The New Journal
illustration by charlotte rica

Leaving Struer

Bogwoman’s brewing, says my mother outfromwhom I came yesterday tumbling, meaning that the fog rolls over Jylland, intowhich her mother sprang and left, returned to with that jolly man of Iowa whose spine was bent like mine – brewing, says my mother as the notyet morning slinks toward a train.

Goodbye, goodbye, I am always saying, with the dumb sensation that it isn’t time, or that it should have been a while before. On the platform normal ways of standing cease to work – how to place my body in relation to their warmth?

Parents sidebyside receding –already Denmark moves away, summer spins away, away the soul’s darkness gleams down fiercely in its cycle like a gash begun to heal. They are hands waving, these people whom I tumble outfrom into (what) –two hands explaining that I have not left enough, or with an adequate somehow force, just yet, and their mother’s father’s otherburning faces shouting all their forme love.

7New Journal September 2022illustration by charlotte rica Poems


Old Bones

Reconnecting with childhood wonder at the Peabody.

The blue whale model loomed over me, the white paint of its belly striated by blue light. Sounds of ocean waves crashed and drifted in and out of my ears as I peered into each diorama of the Ocean Hall exhibit, longing to step inside. I closed my eyes—I want to stay here forever, I thought, jetting across the sea with giant squids and ammonites. I was 6 years old, and my fascination propelled me through every collection of the American Natural History Museum. That feeling—the intense desire to walk out of your own body into a world you can only imagine—was magic. This is my earliest memory. At that age, all aspects of natural history cap tivated me. Dinosaurs leapt from the pages of books and became characters in a fairytale I could step into. I dove deep into the sea of natural history media: I spent hours watching documen taries where I saw mosa saurs swallow sharks whole. During reading periods at school, I’d flip through stories of archaeologists and paleontol ogists unearthing ancient civili zations and specimens in National Geographic Kids magazines, and I’d collect figurines of mammoths,

saber-toothed tigers, and sau ropods. Other kids my age also let their imagination min gle history and nature. Some of my friends pretended they were ancient royalty, while others dug for fossils in the sand next to their castles. We saw transformation in everything: we watched caterpillars turn into butterflies, and we ran around the playground with arms spread like the wings of a monarch. As we got older, we shed more than cocoons. We let the remarkability of the natural world slip.

I can’t remember when I stopped dreaming of dinosaurs. My figurines are still on my book shelves, but that child who could name creatures long extinct, who took pride in classifying them as herbivores and carnivores, feels like a stranger. Her fantasies of swimming with the squids have abandoned me —or rather, I was the one who aban doned them.

Trace fossils remain, reminding me how she lived her life devoted to nature and driven by curiosity. I still

love museums and world histories, but natural specimens just didn’t stick. I don’t know why, but my world became far removed from trilobites and pteran odons. Until recently, that is.

This summer, I interned in commu nications at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. As I peered through each of the Peabody collections—Inver tebrate and Ver tebrate Paleontology,

Anthropology, Paleobotany, Ento mology, and the Babylonian Coll ection—I searched for objects that spoke to me, that I thought would catch the eye of online audiences on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Collection man agers would tell me why they mattered in scientific research or in distinct cul tural contexts, and I’d pore over books in Sterling Memorial Library to learn more. I’d look at trilobites up close in Invertebrate Paleontology and then scrounge for information about what the life of these distinctly-diverse and highly-populated arthropods were like before extinction. I even got to see the skeleton of Togo, the heroic sled dog of the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska, that saved many lives. My job

8 September 2022 The New Journal
illustrations & layout by karela palazio

was to translate these complex pieces of information into digestible bits for a broader audience on social media. In videos, and writing, I told the stories of inanimate objects and specimens in pursuit of the answer to the question: “Why do objects matter?” This ques tion was to be seen as the guiding point for each story. It is what drew me to the position—I heard that child’s voice again, telling me that it was time to lis ten to the millions of voices of the past.

The work was slow. Not every object yields an interesting story. Sometimes, the work meant looking at a pile of rocks that had been stored in cabinets for hundreds of years. I wished these fossilized creatures could whisper in my ear all the secrets from the generations of hands they have passed through— tell me about their birth and creation, under what conditions they lived and died, or how they toiled in the myster ies of the natural world. There is some thing inexplicable and magical about seeing the vestiges of the past up close. One day, I was looking at a collection of cuneiform tablets in the Babylonian Collection. There was nothing par ticularly interesting about their con tents—just letters detailing finances to family members and other economical logistics—but within the black crevice,

incised into the clay, was the name of the scribe who had crafted it. I could almost see the stylus touching the soft clay, and the tablet drying in the sun. I imagined it making its way underground, surviving over hundreds of years, only to reemerge in a small box, neatly tucked away inside a wooden cabinet in the Yale Peabody.

Every moment spent in the collections is an intimate dance with curiosity. Time slows down so much that it begins to move backwards. I surrender to my curiosity, opening drawer after drawer, ignor ing the Latin names I can barely pro nounce. I hold dinosaur bones and mammoth teeth, peer into the inci sions made into the clay of cunei form tablets, and stare wide-eyed at jars full of maggots. I pull out scientific articles, and revel

in others’ research. All this I haven’t had the excitement to do since I was a kid. And I’m able to take fragments of the collection with me in the pieces of information I collected along the way.

Enheduanna, an Akkadian prin cess and high priestess from the twen ty-third century bce, is known as the first named author in human history. She was a poet who wrote moving sto ries and incantations to the goddess Inanna. When I think about her writ ings in tandem with older pieces of the collection, like dinosaur bones and lit tle trilobites, I think about how one can tell the story of time that is forever roll ing. In my head, I swim through the Cambrian Explosion to the Ice Age and try to leap into the present, wondering how we got from microscopic creatures in the sea to prayers spelled out on clay

tablets. These are the shifts in humanity and in the natural world that can be unveiled after opening one’s mind to the curious life of objects. Throughout all this time they have remained intact. Regardless of their popularity, old bones outlive us all.

—Daniella Sanchez is a sophomore in Morse College.

9The New Journal September 2022


Graduate students demand a union contract and a more democratic university. W ill Yale listen?

Abigail Fields is excited. She’s not the only one.

The fifth-year PhD student in Yale’s French Department stands on the bed of a truck overlooking hundreds of protestors. It’s a chilly April evening.

A sea of bright orange opens up below her, all shirts emblazoned with the words “Local 33 unite here,” the name of the union that Yale graduate student workers like Fields have been fighting to form. The crowd is with her, erupting into chants, cheers, and occasionally a smattering of boos aimed at Peter Salovey or the Yale administration.

Using a music stand as a make shift podium, Fields begins speaking: “Without my labor and that of my col leagues in language departments, Yale’s language programs would not function.”

Her words, soon drowned out by the uproar, kick off the Union Yes Majority rally. It’s a demonstration cele brating the fact that more than 1,600

photos by lukas flippo, layout by kevin chen

graduate student workers—a majority of the population of the School of Arts and Sciences—indicated they want a union at Yale. This level of support hasn’t been seen since early in the group’s thirty-year history, which has been obstructed by University union busting efforts.

“For too long, grad workers have been told that we should just feel lucky to be here at Yale,” genetics graduate student worker Arita Acharya gsd ’24 announces to the crowd, which has turned to face President Salovey’s redbricked house on Hillhouse head-on. She adjusts her thin black glasses. “But the Yale name alone can’t pay my rent. It can’t heal me when I’m sick. And it can’t protect me from abuses of power.”

A grievance procedure. Better mental healthcare. Cost-of-living adjustment. A more democratic university. Across Salovey’s lawn, organizers stack huge cubes plastered with demands written by hundreds of graduate student workers.

“I want a union because if I’m going to be out here having kids, I can’t accept being treated like a kid myself,”

graduate student worker Camila Marcone gsd ’27 chimes in from the truck bed. She stands tall, wearing a boldly accessorized version of the crowd’s orange uniform—with a black leather jacket, red lipstick, and cat eye sunglasses. She tells the crowd about the cost of missing healthcare benefits, a livable wage, and a contract. “And that is how Yale treats us! Not even a degree from Yale can promise a good stable job.”

Chants soar between speeches. Local 33 co-president Paul Seltzer gsd ’23 leads the crowd, calling out “When we fight!” to a resounding, “We win!” The chant—carried by Seltzer’s boom ing voice in spite of the wind—is a staple of labor demonstrations around Yale and New Haven, spanning many “we”s and linking the efforts of succes sive generations together.

Even more groundbreaking than the majority support at Yale is the long-building tsunami of unionization flooding the country, including that of graduate student workers at peer insti tutions like Brown, Harvard, MIT,

and Columbia, who have all recently won recognition and contracts. Here in New Haven, labor activists are abuzz and mobilizing for change. This April rally includes graduate student speakers across departments, and representatives from Locals 34 and 35, the New Haven Board of Alders, MIT’s recently formed Graduate Student Union, Yale under graduate-run Students Unite Now (sun), the Graduate Hotel, and the local non profit New Haven Rising. Three months after their own Jackie Sims came to speak at the Local 33 rally, announcing the start of a union campaign, workers at the Graduate Hotel held elections and officially won their union.

“Yale better learn how to surf,” quips Bob Proto, President of unite here Local 35, which represents Yale’s service and maintenance workers. “Because there’s a wave coming on this campus, it’s long overdue . . . Without you, Yale doesn’t work.”

The public emergence of labor activism—bolstered by a National Labor Relations Board (nlrb) and a presi-

At the end of August, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong officially endorsed Local 33 and urged Yale to “commit to respecting [Local 33’s] rights to organize and unionize without interference or employer opposition,” marking one of the most significant endorsements in the group’s history.
Local 35 President Bob Proto speaks passionately from the bed of the truck.
12 September 2022 The New Journal

dential administration that are more sympathetic to workers’ rights than their predecessors—has helped infuse this generation of Local 33 organizers with fresh enthusiasm. Organizers with Local 33 have helped campaign with New Haven Rising—a local activist group fighting for economic, social, and racial justice in New Haven—for Yale Respect New Haven, and this summer they canvassed to improve local hir ing practices. In Connecticut, Local 33 has no shortage of governmental sup port. Like Hurt, many representatives from the New Haven Board of Alders, including its President Tyishia WalkerMyers, attended and spoke at the rally. At the end of August, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong offi cially endorsed Local 33 and urged Yale to “commit to respecting [Local 33’s] rights to organize and unionize without interference or employer opposition,” marking one of the most significant endorsements in the group’s history. These connections are also part of what makes Local 33 so unique. Its

affiliation with unite here ties it to a broader network of hotel, food service, manufacturing, and laundry work ers across the country—a connection unlike those of the independent union efforts at other universities. And the support it has found in New Haven reflects the broader pro-labor senti ments of a city that champions workers’ rights and autonomy, as well as harbors frustrations with Yale as an employer.

“When I come waltzing into your office and say, ‘hey, join the union,’ what I’m asking you to do is to think of yourself as having more in common with the person who cleans your office than with your advisor,” said Gabe Winant grd ’18, a former Local 33 orga nizer and current Assistant Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He spoke passionately and eagerly with me on the phone, the sounds of cars rushing through the background. “That’s one of the most amazing things about the organization: it actually asks you to think about what place you want to have in [New Haven], in this

community, and the kind of complex and unequal social relationships that make it up.”

Yale is no stranger to unions. The University already hosts five, two of which are affiliated with unite here the group behind the latest gradu ate student effort at Yale. However, the University has never acknowl edged Local 33—doing so would mean acknowledging Yale’s graduate student workers as actual workers, who work in labs, teach classes, and write grants. It’s a step that the administration has historically been unwilling to take.

“I want to welcome you to the most unionized university in the country!” Proto announces to the crowd of pro testers, gesturing to the splendor of Schwarzman and Sheffield-SterlingStrathcona Hall behind him. “What’s wrong with this picture? How come the custodians that clean the class rooms have the terms of their working conditions in writing, and the graduate teachers that teach in those same class rooms are ignored by the University?”

13The New Journal September 2022

Insufficient labor laws and the precarity of relying on federal decision-making has placed graduate student employees in a delicate position for much of their history.

A history of denial

Yale has long rejected the notion that graduate student workers can be anything more than students. “University leaders firmly believe that graduate students are here to learn to be scholars and teachers,” Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley wrote in an email to me in July, using words to the same effect of all the University’s public-facing comments on graduate student work ers’ status for the past decade. “[T]heir curriculum includes opportunities to learn through instructing others.”

Graduate students, who are often required to work well over forty hours per week in order to teach classes and perform research, earn a stipend of $38,300 at Yale. There is little to no time for a second job, leaving these students overworked and underpaid—which Yale justifies by asserting that they are students, first and foremost, and stu dents aren’t full-time employees. To emphasize the labor they perform on campus, members of Local 33 refer to

themselves as “graduate student work ers,” or even just “graduate workers” and “graduate researchers.”

Protestors hold up signs including a rainbowbordered unite here! circle.

Graduate worker organizing at Yale has a rich history of action and pushback, as outlined in the Minnesota Review ’s “On Strike at Yale,” writ ten by geso organizer Cynthia Young grd ’99. In 1971, teaching assistants in the Philosophy department with held fall semester grades to protest their wages—$400 per semester—and prompted the administration to dou ble TA wages. In 1986, seven teaching assistants formed the “TA Solidarity Group” to protest the poor working conditions at the University, which denied student workers health care or

livable wages, with some workers not paid at all. Advised by a member of Local 34 who sat in on meetings, the group slowly grew and changed its name to the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (geso) in 1990, when it began seeking official union status. geso organized a majority of graduate student workers—1,400 out of 2,200—in a series of strikes in the 1991–1992 and 1995–1996 academic years. The University came down hard on organiz ers, threatening expulsion and holding disciplinary hearings that resulted in one teaching assistant losing her spring semester teaching job. Without federal worker status and protection, gradu ate student workers were left relatively defenseless against the University’s will despite widespread student support.

Insufficient labor laws and the precarity of relying on federal deci sion-making has placed graduate stu dent employees in a delicate position for much of their history. From the nineteen-thirties to the nineteenseventies, Congress frequently updated

14 September 2022 The New Journal
Courtesy www.local33.org/history/

legislation to clarify the definition of workers. This trend ended with the 1974 amendment of the National Labor Relations Act (nlra) to protect hospital and nursing home healthcare workers as worker rights were becoming increas ingly politicized. The original nlra law, passed in 1935, provided private-sector workers the rights to organize, seek bet ter working conditions, and represent themselves without fear of retaliation.

After the 1974 amendment, matters of worker status, the right to organize, and collective bargaining fell into the hands of the National Labor Relations Board (nlrb)—a federal agency governed by five President-appointed board mem bers, which primarily acts as a judicial body to decide private sector cases. These cases allow the Board to estab lish or curtail worker rights, the most controversial of which could then be reversed by subsequent board members.

In 2000, the Clinton-led nlrb ruled to grant worker status, and thus protection of the nlra, to graduate student workers at private universities.

Because the nlra protections do not apply to government employees, gradu ate student workers at public universities are exempt altogether, leaving individ ual states with the ability to determine workers’ rights to organize. But even graduate student workers at private uni versities soon lost their protections, as the decision was overturned and reversed by the Bush-appointed board in 2004.

In August of 2016, the Obamaappointed nlrb re-affirmed that stu dent employees at private universities held the right to unionize. On the day of the decision, President Salovey sent a letter to the Yale community expressing his disagreement: unionizing, he said, would tarnish teacher-student relation ships with a “formal collective bargain ing regime.” Yale has continued to deny its student workers employee status.

“Their opposition to the union was economic. They didn’t want to pay us more money, I’m sure,” Winant said. “But more than that, it was ideological. And that was why they fought so hard.”

Winant helped spearhead the last

major push for a union during his final years at Yale, in 2016 and 2017. After the 2016 nlrb ruling, Local 33 quickly filed with the nlrb for a vote of legit imacy, pursuing departmental voting (a “micro-unit” strategy) as opposed to a simple majority. This strategy meant only a handful of departments—all of which had strong Local 33 support— would proceed with official elections, with the hope of winning a union that would represent each individual depart ment rather than the entire graduate student body. The decision was con troversial, and the University publicly accused Local 33 of voter suppression as well as aggressive recruiting tactics.

“When you organize workers or a group of people, the goal is to build power you want to build enough power to protect the membership, to protect the workers,” Viet Trinh grd ’18, a former Local 33 organizer, said after pausing for a moment. “In order to build power, you need to win.”

That power was tested when the University took Local 33—then geso

15The New Journal September 2022

—to court in the fall of 2016. Yale asserted that graduate students were not workers—an ideological position in direct violation of the nlrb rul ing—and that departmental elections should not be allowed. The University hired Proskauer Rose llp, a New York City-based law firm notorious for union-busting that has fought against workers at Volkswagen, players in the nfl , nba and nhl , and, most recently, technology and product staffers at The New York Times.

What should have been a routine hearing, culminating in the dismissal of Yale’s case, ended up lasting around two months. Winant attributed this delay largely to the University slow ing down proceedings by deliberately submitting paperwork incorrectly or requesting additional hearings on triv ial matters, a tactic “universal to union busting” to demoralize and frustrate union organizers.

Ultimately, the judge ruled in favor of Local 33. The group held elec tions in nine of the Graduate School

departments in February of 2017, win ning in eight of them. Yale appealed the hearing’s results, forcing a sec ond legal battle. Between the initial hearings and the election, Trump was elected president, forcing Local 33 organizers to prepare for an anti-labor administration that could reverse the 2016 nlrb decision granting graduate student workers the right to unionize.

In hopes of forcing Yale to nego tiate, and calling attention to the University’s strategic stalling of delib erations so that they would carry over into Trump’s term, Local 33 members turned to demonstration. They held rallies during a weeks-long hunger strike, with several demonstrators requiring wheelchairs due to complete exhaustion, and occupied Beinecke Plaza with an encampment—dubbed 33 Wall Street—sporting picnic tables, electrical lighting, and bookcases full of board games, history textbooks, and political nonfiction.

Ultimately, the fight for formal recognition was unsuccessful. In the

summer of 2017, Yale’s Local 33 orga nizers made the painful decision to withdraw their petitions from the nlrb, alongside other graduate student work ers at Boston College and the University of Chicago. The organizers feared a hostile Trump-appointed nlrb could use any one of their cases as an excuse to overturn the 2016 decision and revoke graduate student workers’ right to unionize across the country. They hoped for their right to organize to continue existing, to get through the next four years, and to eventually restart the for mal recognition process, post-Trump.

Finding agency

“Ithink one of the things that’s pretty remarkable is just how constant some of the things are,” Ridge Liu, Co-President of Local 33 and fifth-year PhD student in the physics department, told me. Liu explained that, through out his entire time at Yale, people have talked about the same issues—lack of a third party grievance procedure, good mental healthcare, support for

16 September 2022 The New Journal

international students. Without a union, he believes these problems will con tinue to haunt future generations of graduate workers.

Liu began his time at Yale in 2018, during the Trump administration, on the heels of Local 33’s defeat in gain ing union status. He recalls the end of his first year culminating in “A Failure to Commit,” a report holding the University accountable for its failure to deliver on promises of hiring more New Haven residents, as well as recruiting more faculty of color. The report under scored that without formal account ability methods—like a unionized staff—Yale would continue to violate its espoused values of diversity, equity, and inclusion behind closed doors.

Today, organizers with Local 33, Locals 34 and 35, and other New Haven organizations like New Haven Rising have continued to press Yale to expand their local hiring practices and con tributions to New Haven. Many hope Local 33 could push Yale to increase its financial support of New Haven,

provide a higher baseline support for all of its workers, and truly commit to diversity in hiring goals.

“A union would also give us the power to hold Yale accountable and make this a university that doesn’t just talk about lofty goals of bettering the world but makes real, material commit ments to the New Haven community that supports and surrounds it,” Micah English gsd ’26, a PhD student in the Political Science Department, said at the rally, peering out at the crowd in front of her from beneath her brown knitted bucket hat. She highlighted research demonstrating that unions help foster racial solidarity and increase feelings of belonging. “As members of the Yale community, we should do all we can to ensure Yale is living up to its stated value of justice and fair opportu nities for all.”

A union, English said, could help formally enact protections for gradu ate student workers by establishing a grievance procedure. Currently, issues that arise in the workplace have to be

taken up with supervisors—including grievances caused by their own supervi sors. An independent third party could receive those complaints and handle them without bias. Local 33 members tout neutral third party arbitration, along with increased inclusion and diversity, as possibilities enabled by a union contract.

“Autonomy in the workplace is one good, important issue, but broader welfare practices and safety nets are important for any sort of worker, including graduate students who are teaching and doing research,” Mustafa Yavas grd ’20, a Local 33 alum and postdoctoral associate in the nyu Abu Dhabi sociology department, told me in a voice memo in April.

These demands are not abstractions for the Local 33 organizers, but every day realities born from lived experience. Liu came to Yale to study theoreti cal particle physics, a branch of phys ics that examines the components of the universe in their most basic forms. But at the beginning of the pandemic,

Local 33 Co-President Paul Seltzer leads the group in chants as they march up Hillhouse Avenue to President Salovey’s house.
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funding uncertainties and the diffi culty of working online forced Liu out of his research group. He now studies subatomic particles called neutrinos with an experimental particle physics group, expressing that even though he enjoys this group, he’s frustrated that Yale pulled back on his original group’s funding in a year where their endow ment grew by billions of dollars.

“We need a contract. We don’t have a document that lays out: here’s the conditions of our work; here’s what you get for doing this work. If things go wrong, here is a process that you can trust that will…get a resolution for you,” Liu explains. “None of those things are codified in a way that is binding and that we as graduate work ers really have a way to be at the table.”

Liu’s co-president, Seltzer, who works in the history department, shared his experience with lack of agency at the April rally: “We’ve taught in crowded, poorly ventilated rooms with no guarantee of high quality masks and no consistent policies for what happens

if we or our students get Covid. I need a union because I need a say in the basic conditions of the work that I do.”

An unhealthy relationship

The pandemic forced another of Yale’s shortcomings into the spot light: healthcare. From big picture issues like mental health coverage, expensive dental and visual premiums, to the dayto-day safety conditions of the labs they work in, graduate student workers are finding themselves left unattended by the institution they work for.

Expensive healthcare premiums exist on top of substantial out-of-pocket costs. Buğra Şahin, an international stu dent and third year in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering department, recounted paying $3,000—about 8 percent of his yearly salary—out of pocket for a medically necessary dental procedure last year, leaving him living paycheck to paycheck.

When he spoke at the rally, Şahin’s voice was full of passion, reach ing a firm, forceful crescendo at his

conclusion: “To be able to flourish and excel in our work that we do for Yale, mind you, we have to have our basic healthcare needs met,” Şahin said.

Local 33 alum Yavas remembered the lack of dental and vision coverage from his time at Yale, adding, “It’s obscene that dental care and eye care is still not included in the graduate stu dent healthcare package, as if our eyes and our teeth are not part of our bodies or health.” No changes to the current healthcare plan have been reported as of the start of the 2022 academic year.

Graduate worker unions at Harvard and Columbia have pushed their schools to cover 75 percent of dental premiums, with Columbia even establishing a sup port fund with more than two million dollars available to cover out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision costs. Here in New Haven, Locals 34 and 35 have negotiated with Yale to cover 100 per cent of routine dental work and 80 per cent of emergency operations.

Other alumni also spoke about negative experiences with accessing

18 September 2022 The New Journal

healthcare at Yale. Trinh found him self unable to get a medicine he’d been taking for six years twice throughout his first three years at Yale. After sev eral attempts to make an appointment, Trinh gave up trying. “I think I was one of those folks who kind of fell through the cracks of Yale Health.”

If there are cracks in Yale’s gen eral health system, then its Mental Health & Counseling department has chasms. Alumni and current gradu ate student workers alike recounted experiences with long wait times, short treatment windows, and poorly matched therapists.

“It’s an incredibly opaque system that requires an absurd amount of work on the part of people who need help,” Trinh said. “It seems set up to aggravate the very kind of conditions that health care is supposed to treat I think we see the failures of that system reflected in—if I can be frank—the poor mental health outcomes of Yale students, both graduate and undergraduate.”

Others, like Winant, voiced their

experiences of feeling misunderstood by healthcare professionals who had mainly been trained to deal with 18and 19-year-old college students. “I felt like we were just getting processed and pushed through,” Winant said.

In a mental health system known for relegating all it serves to long wait times and dissatisfactory treatment ser vices, graduate student workers bear the brunt of the obstacles. Some prog ress may happen soon—Dean Cooley wrote to me that, in response to a push by the Graduate School Assembly, she anticipates a “gsas-specific embed ded mental health counselor” will be in place by Fall 2022—but, for many graduate student workers whose mental health needs have been long ignored, this comes too little, too late.

Paying the price

In addition to pointing out the need for safer working environments, Local 33’s requests for contracts and better healthcare reveal the deeper economic precarity facing many graduate student

workers. This starts, quite simply, with the salary Yale pays its student workers.

“The salary that Yale pays its grad uate students is no longer competitive in the way that it would’ve been, for instance, a decade ago,” Trinh told me over Zoom in April. The impact of this discrepancy, he noted, is much bigger than graduate students—it hurts the University, graduate student workers, and undergraduates alike when they “have to be taught by people who are worried about where their next pay check is going to come from.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the average wage for a “post secondary teaching assistant”—the best fit category for a graduate stu dent worker—was $41,170 in May 2021. Stipends in Yale’s Graduate School were recently raised and now range from $38,300 to $40,000—well below the national average, despite coming from one of the wealthiest universi ties in the world. While students can request additional family subsidies if they plan on expanding their families,

Local 33 members and allies march down Hillhouse Avenue.
“And we’re starting to realize that these universities, even though they do do a lot of teaching and that is one of their missions, it doesn’t seem to be the primary mission anymore.”
19The New Journal September 2022

or medical leave funds and conference fellowship funds, all of these require extra criteria and are not a baseline need met by the University. Graduate worker pay at peer unionized univer sities like Columbia, Harvard, and Brown is significantly higher—with minimum PhD pay at Brown resting at $42,411 per year, 10 percent more than Yale’s $38,300 despite Brown’s endow ment being $35.4 billion less.

“I think the big dirty secret of academia is that graduate student instructors—including at Yale—do a significant plurality of the teaching, if not the majority of the teaching,” Trinh said. “And the truth is that part of the way that these universities bal ance their books and make a profit is by underpaying us. That’s part of the cal culus they make.”

This calculus is being felt, hard, by graduate student workers, particularly amid the current period of inflation and rising rent prices.

“Rent has gone up,” Liu said over the summer. “People are really feeling

the stakes of what’s going on and of our lack of power in the University.”

The New Haven Register reported that rent has climbed by about 25 per cent in New Haven in the past year. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in New Haven is $1,895 per month. Annually, this would cost grad uate student workers around $22,000— about 60 percent of their salaries from Yale. Average rent is 32 percent of the typical Americans’ pay, according to Business Insider, and financial experts recommend keeping monthly housing costs at less than 30 percent of income. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Data from 2020, adding up the spending of an average American on only a few necessities—rent, transportation, and food—totals to $39,142, more than a thousand more than a base graduate worker salary.

Anti-union pundits often portray graduate student workers as ungrateful ivory tower elites, but many students are pushing back against this narrative.

“I come from a working class fam ily,” Madison Rackear, a fourth-year PhD student in the genetics depart ment, told me over the summer. “I was the first in my family to go to college. I do have student debt moving to New Haven was a really big jump for me. I came straight from undergrad, and it required a lot of money and time and resources that were, I think, very stressful to me at that time. And I kind of came into New Haven feeling already as if Yale was not doing its due diligence to support graduate workers that it was recruiting to the area.”

Rackear went on to explain how they first worked in a lab at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in order to make money to stay on campus over the summer. After that, Rackear applied to graduate school knowing that a PhD in genetics would secure them more financial security, even if they weren’t planning on staying in academia.

“It really just allows certain doors to be open that are otherwise not in

20 September 2022 The New Journal

this field,” Rackear said. “So I went under the guise of some sort of finan cial security, and then unfortunately I think I quickly realized that that comes at the cost of a shorter period of finan cial instability for a lot of graduate workers, myself included.”

Local 33 alumnus Winant describes his own version of this “bargain”— trading long-term financial security for short-term financial insecurity—which broke down when he arrived on cam pus in the fall of 2010.

“The academic job market was in really bad shape,” Winant said, adding that the “rough, impoverished seven years” of PhD work no longer trans lated to getting a high-paying job. “So it seemed to me like more power for people at the bottom end of the system seemed important if we’re gonna figure out how to renegotiate that bargain in some kind of way.”

The decline of stable, well-paying job opportunities for PhD students is not merely a historical phenomenon; it is very much a challenge of today.

In 1995, roughly half of those teaching at colleges were tenured or on track to get it, as reported by The New York Times. Twenty-five years later, in 2020, a study by the American Association of University Professors found that only 31 percent of American college faculty members were tenured or eligible for tenure. These numbers indicate the rise of contingent faculty—a class of faculty with lower pay, less job security, and less academic clout—who allow universities to balance their books and maintain large enrollment numbers. Since the majority of academic workers will end up in these precarious jobs, more grad uate student workers than ever before are fighting for a smaller pool of stable, tenure-track spots.

In 2014, after months of protests, open letters, and articles by Local 33 organizers, the University rolled out an automatic, six-year funding plan in the humanities and social sciences. But Winant noted that the University framed it as an independently-driven, internal decision.

“They don’t want to convey to people that they’re participating in a kind of negotiating process,” Winant explained. “They want to have monop olized decision making.”

According to Winant, the role of graduate student workers was to generate pressure through petitions, open letters, demonstrations, and fac ulty conversations, which would then be passed up to the administration. The University would never negotiate openly with Local 33 because doing so would confer recognition, allowing graduate workers collective bargain ing power, increased autonomy, and the potential for even bigger change— supported by legal protections.

Yale’s existential crisis

Yale is part corporation, part school.

Navigating graduate student work ers’ search for worker recognition exac erbates its identity crisis. The question of Local 33’s status brings Yale’s dual ism to an unsettling head—forcing the University to admit that even its

Cubes plastered with union demands stack high in front of President Salovey’s house, nearly obscuring it from view.
21The New Journal September 2022

own students feel the tension between Yale as educator and employer. If grad uate student workers unionize, the University might become overtly cor porate, forfeiting its carefully crafted educational landscape.

“I think universities, writ large, need to have a serious, serious reckoning with what their priorities are. Because tuitions are going up and that’s bad for the students. But that money isn’t going to the people doing the actual teach ing. It’s just not. So where is the money going? And if it’s not going to the people doing the teaching, then what’s the mis sion of the University?” Trinh explained, talking faster and faster as he went. “And we’re starting to realize that these uni versities, even though they do do a lot of teaching and that is one of their mis sions, it doesn’t seem to be the primary mission anymore.”

Others have been even more explicit in likening Yale to major companies.

“I think in some ways [Yale] act[s] just like any other corporation,” Winant tells me. “No corporation wants its workers unionized, anywhere, basically, ever. And we’re seeing that now, like at Starbucks, for example.”

Winant detailed for me the union busting techniques used during his time at Yale—from the anti-union lawyers in the nlrb hearings, to the attitudes of many professors. He emphasized how subtle these acts of deterrence could be, recounting how a faculty advisor had once stared and then scoffed at a colleague’s union button, which discouraged them from

wearing it to their lab again. Since many graduate student workers rely on their professors and advisors for secur ing careers outside of Yale, even the slightest tension can feel disastrous. Ultimately, he noted that Yale’s aggres sive legal pushback to union efforts established a firm precedent on how hard they would fight a union.

“I think at some level the whole industry, or at least important pockets of the industry, are just really ideologi cally dug in,” Winant said.

making a decision about how to define themselves. Because they’re both employees and these kind of apprentice profes sionals at the same time,” Winant said.

Organizers at the rally were con scious of this dynamic. The narrative of who a graduate student worker is and what they do has been re-imagined—in large part thanks to decades of orga nizing—and is reaching fruition right now, at Yale and across the country.

“Some of you may be uncomfort able with the phrase ‘student worker,’” English began during her speech at the rally. “I’ll be the first to admit that we are fortunate to be able to teach. But, that doesn’t negate the fact that what we are doing is labor.”

Countless graduate student work ers spoke about their experience work ing in labs, teaching in classrooms, and writing grants.

Another dual identity

Yale isn’t the only one who struggles to identify graduate student work ers as workers—the student workers themselves sometimes find it difficult to characterize their own identities. Many enter graduate school conceiving of themselves as students alone, pas sionate about their academic interests and seeking a role in expanding their areas of research. When they get here and realize the reality of their status, they have to broaden their self-under standing as workers, too.

“When [graduate students are] thinking about unionizing, they’re

Out of this new working identity comes a unique, built-in community. Many alumni and current graduate student workers point to this commu nity as their favorite part of Local 33. “The part of the job that I enjoyed the most actually was just, it became kind of an excuse to regularly check in with my peers and to kind of shoot the shit with them,” Trinh said with the hint of a smile. “It became a way for me to discuss what was going on in their lives and what resources they needed.”

Now, that community is more vibrant than ever.

“I think the conversations have been easy. They have felt as if people are able to share their stories to folks who

“I’ll be the first to admit that we are fortunate to be able to teach. But, that doesn’t negate the fact that what we are doing is labor.”
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they have not ever had a chance to con nect with,” Rackear said. “Yale does not necessarily do a lot to make grad work ers feel as if they’re in community with both Yale and New Haven, and I think that that is something that Local 33 is providing. I think that that combined with people’s desire for things to be dif ferent here has been really motivating.”

Perhaps this fresh wave of organiz ing can be best explained by the word that kept cropping up in my conversa tions with members of Local 33: excite ment. When we talked on the phone over the summer, Liu said with a laugh, “We’re going to win.”

“It’s that excitement and that energy. That’s where that comes from, from the organizing, from the work of talking to everyone,” Liu said, his words spilling out quickly as he shared just how special the current feeling is. “But when we’re going on visits and talking to scientists and labs and going to talk with humanists in libraries and stuff, I see it there all the time. And that’s something that is really mov ing an experience of real solidarity.”

The mountain ahead

The process of change is frustrat ing—especially when Yale often refuses to allow organizers agency or credit for the changes that their hard work has actualized. Despite it all, many of the organizers express optimism.

“I have a lot of hope that the University can this time choose to do the right thing and acknowledge that we are workers and that we have the

right to unionize and that we have the right to do that unimpeded,” Liu said, pausing to choose his words carefully. “I hope that they can choose not to run an anti-union campaign, is what I guess I’m saying. Because we’ve seen examples of employers do this, even in New Haven, at the Graduate Hotel downtown.”

The Graduate Hotel chose to vol untarily recognize and negotiate with its union instead of fighting through the legal system. unite here organiz ers and allies gathered in July to cele brate the win, praising the Graduate for not union busting and elevating them as a model for local employers.

“Graduate Hotel workers changed their workplace for the better, and we can do the same thing right here at Yale,” Seltzer said, as quoted by the New Haven Independent. “The Graduate Hotel did things right by recognizing the union and settling a fair contract quickly. It’s a shame that other employ ers don’t follow their lead.”

Seltzer’s call on Yale pointedly invokes decades of union hostility between graduate student workers and the University. And with this fresh exam ple of an employer remaining neutral and quickly settling a contract, Yale’s obsti nance becomes even more pronounced.

“Yale has a lot of organized power,” Trinh told me. “The goal of the union is to out-organize the University. And that is a very difficult task to do when the University has [forty] something billion dollars, and the graduate stu dents are making, what, thirty thou sand dollars a year. We are fighting a

Goliath with more resources and more power and an absurd amount of money that none of us can really fathom.”

Trinh asserts that the lack of grad uate student worker success is not for lack of trying, competency, or strategy. It’s the direct result of Yale’s deep-set resistance—fortified by its deep pock ets—to worker power. Organizing at Yale requires vast amounts of patience, effort, and generational knowledge— all things that are incredibly difficult to build across workers who only have a six-to-eight year term at the University.

“That’s the hill that we’re climb ing,” Trinh said. “And we’re working on it. But we are climbing a very, very, very steep mountain.”

Continuing its decades-long jour ney to build power, Local 33 has begun its newest venture: signing union cards, which could lead to another formal nlrb vote or—in an unprece dented reversal—voluntary University acknowledgement. On the first day of September, Fields stands outside the Humanities Quadrangle, wearing an orange Local 33 shirt tucked into blue jeans. In front of her rests a small plas tic table—one of many across cam pus—filled with pens and paper and plastered with “Union Yes!” posters. She can’t help but smile as she tells me how she and her colleagues will be there the rest of the day, and the day after. However long it takes.

—Abbey Kim is an Associate Editor of The New Journal and a sophomore in Branford College.

23The New Journal September 2022

Yale’s power plants have never been able to meet the standard of clean energy and safe working conditions.

A writer takes a look inside.


wanted to add some Yale Blue to the steam,” Cox tells me, “but the managers didn’t want to call attention to ourselves.”

Jeremy Cox, the Sterling Power Plant manager, gestures towards three exhaust pipes, each jutting around six stories towards the sky. One pipe is frosted with cream ornamentation; the others are twin steel limbs. They churn out an invisible cloud of billowing emis sions, as they do every day, all year. The red-bricked buildings of the Sterling Power Plant, scattered at the base of the pipes, emit a loud growl that can be heard from around the block. Intermittently, a raucous clang or hiss sounds from an appendage of the building, but the noise dissipates before I can determine its source.

Cox is poised by the door to the underground plant, peering out from under his yellow hard hat as I fum ble with a notebook and pen. I men tion the bestial noises to Cox, but he appears to barely register the clamor. Once he ushers me inside, we walk down a hallway lined with snaking pipes and diagrams of turbines. If not for the Yale bulldog logo on his hoodie, it would be difficult to remember that we’re less than half a mile away from the ivy-draped buildings of campus.

illustration by charlotte rica

The Sterling Plant powers the Yale School of Medicine and the Hospital. It’s one of two plants on Yale’s campus, the other being the Central Power Plant that operates on Grove Street. They’re easy to miss: neither is marked with signposts nor touted from the outside for powering the University. Cox told me about the University of Alaska adding a light show with their school’s colors to their power plant, but Yale seems intent on keeping its plants hidden from the public eye.

With revamped exteriors, it is difficult to tell that the Central Power Plant and Sterling Power Plant were built in 1918 and 1923, respectively. But on cold days, the steam pouring from the gothic-style exhaust stacks resembles the ashen clouds of a coal-fired plant, a scene straight out of a photograph of early industrial America. The plants’ unas suming appearance conceals a history of harmful practices from the pass erby’s eye—a legacy of slow-paced improvement, of Yale disregarding employee health and student wellbe ing, swept into coal-dusted shadows.

If the power plants tell us one thing, it is that transformations in Yale’s energy infrastructure aren’t simple, fast, or necessarily effective.

The Endowment Justice Coalition publicized the extent of Yale’s investments in fossil fuels in 2021—an estimated 800 million to 2.5 billion dollars; it’s hard to know for sure due to a lack of transparency. Unlike Yale’s investment practices, the power plants haven’t been held to the same level of scru tiny. While the full tale of Yale’s energy infrastructure can only be traced through obscure finan cial documentation and lessons in thermodynamics, the conse quences are tangible to us all, even if they’re easy to ignore—flip the light switch or turn on the hot water, and you’re consuming fos sil fuels. As universities across the country are forced to reckon with global calls for cleaner energy gen eration, Yale will have no choice but to reconsider its priorities and role as a research university, not a hedge fund with a school attached.

If the power plants tell us one thing, it is that transformations in Yale’s energy infrastructure aren’t simple, fast, or necessarily effec tive. Yale’s energy history—from the first, cursory dappling of coalfired plants to modern renewables projects—is patched together with stories of belated improvement and myopic preparation, especially to the impact their efforts have on surrounding communities. We now stand on the cusp of yet another inflection point in energy history.

As we once again entrust Yale to responsibly steward an update of on-campus energy infrastructure, it is more important than ever to understand the full scope of power the University possesses when it comes to energy production, how it’s leveraged that power in the past, and the human consequences that are too often taken as secondary to “progress.” There may be no better way to do so than to look to the exhaust pipes of the Yale power plants.

Early in Yale’s history, the Univer sity’s method of generating electricity frustrated campus residents. Before the Central Power Plant was constructed, several smaller plants burned coal to heat and light buildings. These plants—scat tered near classrooms and below dining halls—left campus cloaked in black soot.

Yale paid little attention to complaints as the issue of coal ash lingering near living spaces became exacerbated in the 1910s. Students and fac ulty were at risk of incurring chronic respiratory irritation and exposure to a rank, sulfu rous compound that burnt coal releases. “The value of the plant from a hygienic standpoint can not be computed in dollars and cents,” a 1911 Yale Daily News article reads. “Pure air in our dormitories and lecture rooms is a consideration not to be for gotten.” It was only when the University planned on expanding its operations with the construc tion of a new dormitory that the inefficient system of the smaller plants was called into question. Donations eventually enabled the construction of the Central Power Plant in 1918, a symbol of Yale’s self-sustainability, and its grow ing power as an institution.

Sterling power plant on a warm day. Invisiblevapor is emitted from its steel pipes. A Gothic-style exhaustpipe at the Sterling Power Plant.
25The New Journal September 2022 Saachi Grewal / The New Journal
layout by charlotte rica & kevin chen

In addition to spewing noxious coal dust around campus, the new plant threat ened the safety of its workers attending to the outsized oper ations, driving employees to strike for higher pay in 1941. “They had the proverbial coal man working then who would shovel coal into the furnace,” said Cox, “They were constantly breathing in that coal dust.”

The coal dust particles, smaller than one-thirtieth the width of a human hair, meander into the lungs and bloodstream where they can cause a host of chronic lung, heart, brain, and ner vous system diseases. The plant clearly wasn’t built to address the concerns about student or employee health.

His flashlight illuminated a mummified pigeon at the bottom of the cavern and we lingered there, silent, in the macabre scene.

As we walked through the power plant’s underbelly, Cox mentioned that he had worked in a coal-fired plant for a short while, prior to his job at Yale. Running his hands along some pipes sealed with nuts and bolts, he said, “If the seals weren’t perfect, I would breathe in all these coal particles—I’m healthy now, but who knows what I might come down with in the future.”

Cox showed me the old furnace, power washed but still stained with a black hue. His flashlight illuminated a mum mified pigeon at the bottom of the cavern and we lingered there, silent, in the macabre scene. “Sometimes I wish I could see what it was really like back then,” he said, before being interrupted by his cell phone’s ringtone: the sound of a Star Wars lightsaber unsheathing.

In the 1940s, Yale’s Central and Sterling plants burned through 35,000 to 40,000 tons of coal annually, the weight of the Statue of Liberty. A Yale Daily News arti cle from 1953 describes how the clock hands of Harkness Tower were barely visible through the power plant “smaze”—a mixture of

smog and haze spewed by the plants’ smokestacks.

From the 1940s to the early 2000s, Yale consistently strug gled to meet Connecticut’s baseline air pollution regula tions. Yale attempted to clean up its act by weaning off coal, but in doing so became com pletely reliant on natural gas, a colorless and odorless fossil fuel that was burned alongside coal in the plants since the 1910s. In the 1960s, Yale managed to cut its power demands by 10%, and in the decades after tweaked existing machinery to further lower emis sions. But, by 1992, Yale’s Senior Energy and Environmental Engineer declared that the plants were still not meeting the state’s air pollution standards.

Yale’s slow progress isn’t nec essarily surprising. It’s risky for a campus to experiment with new energy technologies. Lab spaces, classrooms, and dorms could all go dark without large, consis tent stocks of energy, which is not something the University would leave to chance. Even during short outages caused by union strikes in the 1950s, campus life was dis rupted as undergraduates took up maintenance duties on campus. It

Walking through the underbelly of the Sterling Power Plant.
26 September 2022 The New Journal

wasn’t until 2007—when Yale replaced old machinery with a turbine able to concurrently produce hot steam and elec tricity, a setup called cogenera tion—that Yale met state codes.

The cogeneration setup is impressive to behold: studded with windows revealing hot blue gas, it spans the length of a large bus. I don a hard hat and earplugs before Cox leads me to the gas turbine and opens the metal double doors. Out belches oil-smelling fumes and a booming clamor that sounds like a plane continuously taking off. “It’s like a big gas-powered grill on its side attached to a jet turbine engine,” yells Cox.

Cogeneration was the main cause of the 43 percent reduction of Yale’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 to 2020. In a typical power generator, heated steam spins a large fan-like turbine and exits the smokestacks in 1200°F plumes. Cogeneration captures the warm steam, recycling its energy before letting out a cooler 300°F stream through the pipes. Yet, the technol ogy isn’t revolutionary. Cogeneration first appeared in early 20th century American power plants and was only adopted in industrial plants after it was promoted as an energy-efficient technology in the 1978 purpa act. Yale adopted the technology around the time other American universities got on the bandwagon.

Each year, the exhaust pipes still release 198,000 metric tons of green house gasses, the weight of the Sears Tower. “Natural gas is not the pana cea,” stressed Kenneth Gillingham, Professor of Economics at the Yale School of the Environment.

If the emissions themselves weren’t harmful enough, there is the matter of how Yale sources their natural gas. Yale is the largest consumer of Southern Gas Connecticut (sgc)—the father

company of which, Enbridge, was responsible for one of the country’s largest oil spills in 2010, and has been met with popular and governmental backlash for its destructive fracking practices. Yale’s ties to Enbridge can only be found with incessant digging through financial records and obscure documentation—it’s a well-kept secret. While Yale leverages Enbridge’s resources to power campus, it shrouds its behavior in greenwashed rhetoric. “In my day, they were called smoke stacks,” Cox tells me. “Now, there’s a bit of a pr campaign to make it sound a lot cleaner. So exhaust pipes it is.”

Not only does the University mask how it sources its natural gas, Yale also isn’t contractually allowed to sell the power it gen erates. The result: Yale operates on an isolated microgrid with its two plants releasing nearly four teen times more greenhouse gases than the nearest energy facility in New Haven. “Yale had this idea early on and was like, you know what, we should create our own power,” said Cox, emphasizing the last part in a booming voice. This leaves the University in complete

control of its operations: Yale can choose what type of fuel to use, doesn’t need to negotiate pricing with energy compa nies, and can produce however much energy it wants. Yale’s historical self-sustenance is what let the plants emit fossil fuels emissions above state pol lution standards in the 2000’s: its older plants weren’t expected to comply with modern standards. It also will keep the University safe during widespread outages caused by storms and the city of New Haven dependent on Yale energy. By isolating itself from the grid, Yale has continued to keep its resources within the uni versity and its power consolidated.

The time has come again for Yale to consider revamping its energy infrastructure. The Biden administration has cracked down on natural gas processing facili ties and Governor Ned Lamont promises that Connecticut will be carbon-free by 2040. The 2021 Yale Sustainability Progress Report announces Yale will use “emerging technologies” like geo thermal heat and green hydrogen fuel to be carbon-free by 2050, but progress has been slow and largely underwhelming.

The time has come again for Yale to consider revamping its energy infrastructure.
One of Yale’s cogeneration turbines, which is essentially a jet engine on its side.
27The New Journal September 2022

Over the past decade, Yale installed geothermal-powered heat pumps at Kroon Hall, the School of the Environment’s central hub. These pumps reach 1,600 feet down to Earth’s warmer core in order to heat water into steam.

“Only one heat pump out of three really works,” said Gillingham. “Even if the pumps did work, they only provide heat, not electricity, so they couldn’t replace the power plant’s cogenerating beast.”

Yale could supplement heat pumps with a renewable source of electricity from one of their many pilot projects—the fleet of ten micro wind turbines purchased by Yale in 2009, for example. These turbines sit atop Becton, an engineering and applied science building on campus, and attempt to demonstrate Yale’s venture into renewables. But the ten fans, which look like miniplane rotors, only provide half a percent of the building’s annual electricity needs. “As windy as it feels on Science Hill, it’s really not a great resource for producing a lot of electricity,” said Gillingham.

Yale has attempted to think big ger by quietly investing 102 million dollars in a wind farm company’s proj ect to crown Maine’s hilltops with a crop of gargantuan, white windmills. But the approach, spearheaded by the late David Swensen, hasn’t run over smoothly with locals. “We’re defending

our way of life. We’re defending the people, our livelihood, our culture,” commented Lindsay Wheaton, the owner of the Grand Lake Lodge, whose wilderness retreat property sits facing the ridge lined with windmills. Other residents expressed concern about the project’s impact on the frag ile mountain slopes of Roxbury. It appears the project has been can celed, though no definite reason is given, and it is unlikely that it will serve as a blueprint for Yale’s energy production anytime soon.

Other universities on the east coast, a region without a bounty of local solar and wind farms, are facing similar problems in find ing large-scale solutions. In 2021, Harvard constructed a natural gas-burning cogeneration plant with a chic modern facade, much to the annoyance of climate activists. When I asked Cox his opinion on wind farms, he noted that Yale and other older colleges don’t yet have the infra structure for a large electrical grid. “There are options, but everything’s expensive,” added Gillingham. Yale’s sizable endowment could help develop these technologies, such as refitting the existing plants with hydrogen fuel to thwart emissions, utilize existing facil ities, and keep jobs in New Haven.

The readiness and cost of greener technologies aside, it is clear that change is impending and Yale will

need to do a better job informing its operations and attitudes with the health and safety of surround ing communities. After a century of owning its means of energy production, the University still struggles to properly prepare for impending changes—caught flat footed when the need for transfor mation becomes unavoidable—or realize the full scope of its facilities’ impact on people. When a repair worker fell into the Central Power Plant’s chimney to his death in 2015, the Yale deputy press secretary closed out the press release with the statement: “Power to campus build ings was not affected.”

As the University is called to par ticipate in the next stage of the tran sition to cleaner energy, the essential question remains: can we trust that Yale will use its power responsibly?

I walk back to campus from the corner of Congress Ave and Frontage Road and the power plant hums behind my back. Above the passing traffic of students and cars, vapor drifts from the towering exhaust pipes and disperses over campus. Hiding a beast in plain sight is no small feat, but Yale’s power makes it both possible and profitable.

—Saachi Grewal is a senior in Pierson College.

The readiness and cost of greener technologies aside, it is clear that change is impending and Yale will need to do a better job informing its operations and attitudes with the health and safety of surrounding communities.
28 September 2022 The New Journal
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A businessman in clown make-up standing in the station as the subway arrives.


His breath: two small clouds on the puddled sounds of day, our spines pressed gently into lock. The several million years between our bodies bend and creak over the bed. He’s spent his life upon a chair. His fur is strewn like crumb-trails through the house, his breath is two small clouds.

We walk and wonder if we would still talk without a cord. We spill our trust out of squat bland bowls. We gather up the blankets of our lungs, boil breakfast eggs, and

This morning I drew . . .

This morning I drew, as the bath ran, my long body into shadow, feeling my self delicious, as if laughter and desire were weathers over lands to which we, should we wish it, could quite simply ride. Do not wear a cork again, to the open bottle I said. In the cold of that shade and the water I drank nearly a sentence I stole while you passed me off your tongue. Then my nakedness rose high enough with the angled sun for clothes to make less sense, and in an act of madness which often we all together do I stood, dressed, ate, and stepped trailing dreamed-up puddles slyly out the hilarious drunken door.

Zawar Ahmed
29The New Journal September 2022
s l e e p
Clown by the Train 18" × 14" Oil on Canvas Summer 2022


The Holy Bible: Annotated and Abridged

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

(John 1:1)

why I didn’t follow them. I participated exactly once that day, at the very end of class, and nearly cried afterwards.

Am I my brother’s keeper?

(Genesis 4:9)

and then, when we ran out of things to say, added: “Oh, and I also liked your duck metaphor.” It was like baby ducks following baby ducks: a bunch of dumbasses paddling in a circle.


year, I spent three hours every Wednesday afternoon being bat tered by the truth of Yale’s 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio—more teach ers in a classroom is not always bet ter. There were nine students enrolled in “Neighbors and Others” and three teachers: the wonderful Professor Levene and her two TAs, American Alison and British Ed.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. There were originally twenty-six stu dents. But on the first day of class a senior philosophy major, Andrew, asked Professor Levene what the thesis of the course was, and when she hesitated and told him to find out for himself, five people left the Zoom. Andrew stayed, but twelve other students dropped out over the next three hours as we discussed the Bible, and I don’t know

Yale seminars are scary. Once, when we were asked about the audience of a book, the class was subjected to a Davenport senior’s slow, thought out answer, adding terms one by one as he came across them: “The audience for this book is likely liberal . . . elite . . . intelligentsia . . .” he said, pausing for a moment, “and probably coastal. .” He is a legacy student and from New Jersey; it felt like watching someone masturbate. I recall, during a class on Glenn Gould, hearing the phrase “sonic sounds” leave someone’s lips (sonically). And once, while work shopping an essay in a different class, I remember every student in the class room (myself included) complimenting the same awful metaphor about how, from above the lake’s surface, you can’t see how hard ducks paddle underwater. We each said what we liked about the essay and what we’d want to improve

I wish so badly I could claim to be better than them, but I am not. I spent most of my first year too overwhelmed to participate in almost anything, and when I did speak I was only barely aware enough to register how dumb I sounded. No matter what was in my mind, everything seemed to come out the same way: “Nice ducks!”

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach.

(Romans 12:6–7)

Talking to Professor Levene at her office hours, I learned that her pur pose for the class was teaching us to read. She could easily lecture to us about the texts and tell us what we should know, but she wanted us to learn to fight and figure things out for ourselves. It was obvious from our conversation that she didn’t think we were doing a good job.

30 September 2022 The New Journal A Yale student learns how not to read.

Writing my first essay, I met with both British Ed and American Alison. They are incredibly kind people. “Your thinking is like a firework!” British Ed told me. I do actually think he liked me. “But it means that sometimes you go too fast and get ahead of yourself, and don’t articulate your thoughts properly. Just work on those middle stages between the shell and the final explosion. I’m excited to see what you come up with.”

I met with American Alison to brainstorm and within ten minutes she told me I could drop the first essay if I needed to.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

No other commandment is greater than these. (Mark 12:30–31)

At the end of the semester I stopped doing the readings for “Neighbors and Others.” In the beginning, when I had done the reading and had a lot to say, British Ed really liked me and I sat next to him most days. By the end of

the year I was quiet, and sometimes I could feel his eyes on me, imploring. I’m not sure whether I imagined those questions in his gaze, urging me to speak! and learn! and practice thinking! and struggle please because it’s okay you’re safe here! But I stopped looking in his direction so I can’t say what really was in his eyes. I felt bad imagining he wanted what was best for me.

On the last day of the year we talked about all the texts we had read and each of us brought our favorite quotes to class and wrote them up on the board. One student skipped. But the discussion that day was beautiful and I could almost sense Professor Levene’s purpose for us, a purpose we had missed all semester, some path towards dissolving the divide between “Neighbor” and “Other.” But I still didn’t quite get it. I had trou ble understanding a lot of the quotes. Everything from Spinoza, Winicott, and de Castro confused me without its context, and the only sections I really understood were from the Bible and the first day of class. Love your neigh bor. Give to the poor. Take responsi bility and be good.

In a moment of silence just before the end of class, I spoke and addressed Andrew, reminding him of the task he’d been set at the beginning of the year— to discover the class’s thesis himself.

“So what would you say now?” I asked, and people laughed. I really respect Andrew. This was his second to last day of Yale, and I was curious about what he had gotten from it all, when I felt like I understood so little.

“Oh!” he said. “I remember that. But I don’t think I could do a bet ter job than what we all brought here today. The quotes.” We all looked up at the board and read the quotes and were silent. Confronted with so many words and so many ideas from so many authors all at the same time, the letters spun together and I couldn’t under stand anything at all.

But alright, Andrew. Have it your way. The thesis is in the quotes. The meaning is in the quotes. You apparently have learned to read. I did not.

Shane Zhang is a sophomore in Silliman College.

Lukas Flippo / The New Journal
31The New Journal September 2022
layout by camille chang & kevin chen visit thenewjournalatyale.com

mid m arch, 2020

Today I’m going home for the first time in months. I no longer notice the petunias just begin ning to flower in the window boxes on Carroll Street, or the Corinthian col umns flanking the entrance to the syn agogue on Garfield. Without having to look, I lift my wheelie suitcase over a particularly big crack in the pavement outside my old orthodontist’s office. I’ve tripped over that crack enough times to know it’s there.

The sun dropping over the heads of the brownstones traces a golden path on the concrete, at the end of which, I know, is my parents’ house. “Parents’ house” is something I’ve only just started to say, a phrase picked up from college friends still waiting for the right place to give the word “home”. I’m lucky, I know where mine is—but I like “parents’ house” anyway. It gives me the same thrill as signing my name on a check, or tipping someone and saying, “keep the change”.

I know just how the house will be when I get there. The setting sun will draw the color from the bricks, a mosaic of pink and brown. The wind, still sharp with the last bite of winter frost, will rustle through the branches

32 September 2022 The New Journal Personals


Lotus-eating among the cherry blossoms.

of the cherry blossom tree standing on the sidewalk next to our stoop. Across the street is my old elementary school, and the children will be laughing and screaming in the playground. There’ll be a “Welcome Home!” sign taped to the front door, the work of my younger sister, Ruby, who’ll be sitting by the window waiting for me.

I know just how I’ll be, too, when I get there. I’ll hug my parents, my mom first and then my dad an hour later once he’s finished his meeting. We’ll sit down at the dining room table and rehash things I’ve already told them on the phone. (“So you ended up getting lunch with that girl? Any potential there? Just give it time, honey.”) All of us will eat dinner together and talk about Trump’s press conference, about my parents’ work, and family friends who are hav ing marital problems. (“Did you hear she’s leaving him? But they’ve got a baby on the way! Good thing she’s get ting out while she still can.”) Tonight, when everyone’s asleep, I’ll walk into the kitchen to make myself a sandwich and feel the numbing dread of discover ing a souvenir of my childhood in every drawer. A feeling of awful inevitabil ity—the moment of quiet just before the doll in the horror movie starts to

move. Here’s the plastic blue spoon I used to eat my first bowl of applesauce. The black neoprene lunch box from kin dergarten with my name scratched on it in Sharpie. The photograph of me as a baby, my eyes wide and happy above a mask of chocolate icing.

At night I’ll fall into bed and my mattress will embrace me like an old friend. I’ll stare at the ceiling and start to feel that familiar feeling. A slack ening, a lassitude. Water swirling and glug-glugging down a drain in my chest. I’ll make a promise to myself that this time will be different—I’ll go on a long walk tomorrow—at least three hours— but when I wake up it’ll be 11:00 and I’ll take out my phone and scroll through Instagram until the fog clears, and when I finally get out of bed the day will be half-gone and my slippers so comfortable and what’s the point in trying to do anything productive now anyways? I’ll walk into the kitchen and snap at my mom when she asks me how I slept. “Fine,” I’ll say, and pour myself a cup of coffee from the pot, without a thought as to how it had gotten there, or how come it’s noon and the pot is still full and still hot. “You always needed your sleep,” she’ll say. “Just like when you were a kid.”

33The New Journal September 2022illustrations by jesse goodman

e arly-July, 2006

One summer when I was six years old, my parents packed us all into our scratched and dented black Mazda mpv and made the three hour drive up the Taconic to Hillsdale, New York. We were going to spend the month at my grandma’s old country house, a ramshackle structure of rotting wood and tacky shingles built on top of a cleared hilltop in the woods. By day, the house was full of magic. I wandered from room to room transfixed by the hummingbirds hovering to drink from my grandmother’s bird feeder, and the lines of ants that came at dinnertime to collect the crumbs dropped from my fork. But when darkness fell, the night cracked open with the howls of coyotes and toads and owls hoo-hooing in voices like the one my mom gave to Voldemort when she read to us before bed. Then ghosts overtook the house. They groaned through the pipes and banged around the boiler room and creaked over the ancient floorboards. I could see them out of the corner of my eye as I lay in bed, silhouettes slipping toward me across the dark carpet.

Nearly every night when I couldn’t fall asleep, I’d clamber upstairs as fast as I could and knock quietly on my parents’ bedroom door. My dad was always awake, sitting up with his read ing glasses perched on the tip of his nose, typing furiously on his computer. “Daddy,” I’d whisper, and he’d sigh and hoist himself out of bed and tramp behind me back down the stairs, just the way he did when I had nightmares at home. “I’ll sit here until you fall asleep,” he’d say and reopen his com puter. In that halo of white light the ghosts fled, sliding back into the walls where their sounds couldn’t hurt me. Sometimes I think I’ve been chasing that feeling my whole life, the warmth I felt in the safety of his light.

mid april , 2020

I wake up every day by the glare of the sun. The first thing I do in the morning is reach for my phone to check the time. It’s been getting later every week: 10:30, 10:45, 11:00, 11:15. A couple weeks ago I decided it was okay to miss my morning Art History lecture. We’re not getting graded, and when will I

ever need to know about post-Impres sionist artists? People only care about the Impressionists anyway. Since then I’ve missed nearly every class. Instead, I watch YouTube videos until I can feel my bladder all the way down in my knees, and then I pad down the hall to the bathroom and hold a hand over my eyes to block the light while I consider whether it’s worth it today to put in my contact lenses.

In the month I’ve been back home, news of the covid-19 pandemic has gotten worse. School has been canceled for at least the semester. I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen outside my family. The man at the deli who spreads cream cheese on my bagel. The guy with a nose ring who sells me weed. My neighbor, an elderly man with a pinched face and angry eyes who sits on his stoop all day feed ing treats to passing dogs. (“What’s a human gotta do to get one of those,” I called to him once, on the way back from the deli with a bagel. He didn’t respond.) I’ve thought about texting some friends to go on a walk, but when I scroll through my high school contact list—Ananda, Henry, Jane, Trish—I start to feel queasy and decide to do it later, when I’m feeling more up to it. It’s not that I don’t want to see them. It’s just that doing anything at all feels too much to ask of myself.

outside that day. “You should take a walk,” he’ll say. “It’ll do you good.” “You just don’t get it,” I’ll huff, and pick at my food.

When dinner is over and my par ents have gone upstairs, my brother, sister and I gather in the living room. Someone takes out a joint, a board game, or a bottle of wine, and for the night we’ll be three kids with every thing except someone to tell us no. My brother Noah is the musician, and he grabs the aux. “Mellow or wild,” he asks, and we laugh and go “mild”. My sister Ruby is the chef, and she sections out the cookie dough. “No, let’s have brownies this time,” I yell from the living room. “Make your own fucking brownies,” she calls back. The streets slowly empty of night-owl dads walk ing their dogs; the security guard with a Mets baseball cap comes by to lock the school playground. Deep into the night the three of us stay up, playing Settlers of Catan and watching Game of Thrones. Nights like these, I remem ber why I love this place so much, why I find it so hard to stay away. But then night oozes into morning, viscous like cheap syrup, and I feel the water empty down the drain again.

My desk is a waiter’s tray of unwashed coffee mugs, cups and plates, my clothes a heap on the carpet. My bedside table is stacked high with jour nals abandoned after the second page. I take Zoom classes with the laptop screen tilted up toward the wall, so people don’t see the mess. I’ve come to dread our nightly family dinners because my dad will ask me if I’ve been

On the sidewalk outside our house, the cherry blossom tree is in full bloom. Sometimes I take my breakfast out onto the front stoop, watching petals spiral down to catch in my hair. There’s a little kid who likes to play down on the street with his action figures—the grandson of one of my neighbors. When the wind gets to gusting the tree spills a swirling ribbon of pink petals over the road, and the little boy goes chasing after them, trying to land one on his tongue. I watch him play sometimes, sipping my coffee. It’s almost too easy to switch places with him. If I close my eyes, I can feel the hot concrete on the soles of my shoes, and the way the sweet smell of spring fires up my bloodstream, and the bitter taste of those cotton-candy petals, dissolving on my tongue.

e arly november, 2018 I’m sitting on a low stone bench in the Parco di Celio, overlooking the plaza and the sagging Colosseum lit up from within like a rotting jack o’ lantern. I’ve decided to take a year off

34 September 2022 The New Journal

before college, enchanted by the idea of discovering myself by discovering the world – a project which a couple weeks ago seemed as simple as buying a plane ticket. Tomorrow, I take the train north from Termini Station into Tuscany, where I’ll spend the next couple of months at a vineyard, picking grapes. I can’t think about it without my heart lurching precariously against my rib cage. But for tonight I’m in Rome, slowly eating a slice of pizza purchased from the first place I came across with English signs, trying to take in the glit tering lights of the Colosseum without thinking about tomorrow.

On the way back to the hostel I hear the sinking, tinkling sound in my head phones that means my phone’s about to die—doo, doo, doo. I have no idea where I am, I’m using Google Maps to nav igate, but each time I look down the battery is lower. 5% 4% 3%. How could I be so stupid? I start to run, squeezing around couples strolling hand-in-hand through narrow alley ways. Everyone is young and together in this city. I turn a corner and almost run over a lady with her dog. She yells something in Italian, but I don’t notice because there at the end of the street is the door of my hostel. I reach it just as my phone screen turns black.

My little room on the second floor is too dark to fall asleep. I try opening the curtains, but still the blackness is impenetrable and I can’t see my hand held out in front of my face. I reach over and turn on the flashlight on my charging phone, covering it partially in dirty clothes until the room glows softly with light.

The sounds drifting in through the open window are unfamiliar—the rattling of bicycle wheels over cobble stones and the strange inflections of foreign voices. I feel something hot and panicky rise up from my chest and stick in my throat, pushing up against the hollow beneath my Adam’s apple. How will I ever fall asleep like this? I close my eyes and picture what would’ve happened if my phone had died just a little earlier. Where would I have slept? Who would I have asked for help? Two months is such a long time to be away from home; everyone I need is too far away to help. They must all be asleep by now—out of reach.

Suddenly I sit up in bed. I’d for gotten about the time difference; it’s six hours earlier in New York. They’ll be at dinner, sitting together around the dining room table. I snatch my phone from beneath the pile of clothes and call my mom, forgetting to use FaceTime to avoid the long-distance charge. She picks up on the second ring. “Hi McLovin!” she says, a joke so old I forget how it started. “Mom,” I whisper, as the pressure of the black ness suddenly lifts away. “Will you just talk to me for a bit?”

log and take out the bag of peanuts, watching as the algae drifts back and forth over the water. A squirrel scampers down the trunk of a nearby tree and approaches me, his front leg extended as if reaching for something. He wants a peanut, I think. I toss a handful into the grass, but the squirrel ignores them. He’s staring at me, his head cocked. His eyes are black. We look at each other for a moment, and then I stomp my foot and he scurries back up the tree.

l ate april , 2020

T oday I think I’ll go for a walk. I pack some peanuts in a Ziploc bag, grab a Jonathan Franzen novel and head out the door. It’s a still, lazy time of day, and the air feels heavy with the smell of an approaching rain. I set off down 1st Street and take a right onto 6th Avenue. Every street is col ored with the emotional resonance of a memory. This corner is where I got bitten by my dog when he was still an untrained puppy, and here is the store where we get fresh matzah on Passover. I take a right on Sterling Street, pass the bench where I got drunk for the first time, another right onto 8th Avenue, stopping for a moment to take a sip of water at the synagogue where I had my bar mitzvah, dancing the horah with a girl I wanted to kiss. Another left onto Garfield Place, up the slope where I don’t go skateboarding any more because I’ve fallen too many times, into the park and through a little opening in the trees, where the leaves are damp and thick underfoot, where the air is just as restless as me.

A little ways along a pond emerges, covered by a thick, green carpet of spring algae. I sit beside it on a damp

A patch of opaque water opens up in the algae before me. I lean over and my reflection rises up to meet me. I sense the algae drifting across the pond, forward and back, and the trees swaying in the breeze, and for a moment I feel the ground beneath me fall away. The big wet log is gone, the trees and the grass and the algae blend together into a smear of green, and I feel as if I’m tipping forward into empty space, into the pond. I clutch the log for support but my head is spinning from the heat. It strikes me all of a sud den how bizarre it is that the reflection in the water should be mine – my nose, my hair, my shapeless, chapped lips. I step back from the edge into the shade of the tree and lie down on the grass, trying to steady myself. Above me, the squirrel rustling through slender branches dislodges an acorn. It lands with a plunk in the water and sinks below the algae, out of sight.

On the way home the clouds rum ble and finally let loose a torrent of rain. I haven’t packed an umbrella, so I decide to make a run for it, holding the nearly empty backpack above my head. Everything weeps silver pearls of rain—the leaves, the lampposts, the umbrellas bobbing above faceless peo ple on 8th Avenue.

When I get to the top of my street, I pause. I have nowhere to go, and the rain is beating down harder, but I can’t go home. The thought of my room with its moldy coffee cups and unfinished journals is repulsive now. The sky is a wash of gray, the sun hidden behind a sheet of clouds. It’s funny to think how closely my life obeyed the movement of the sun only a few months ago. I hardly notice it anymore. Night is the turning of a switch, day the opening of a computer. The low branch of a cherry

35The New Journal September 2022

blossom tree dumps a soggy clump of white and pink petals at my feet, and I want to be anywhere else.

l ate february, 2021

I want to go home. I’ve been back at school for a month and everything is locked down. I’m sick of spending all day in my room with its peeling, tal low-colored walls, taking classes on my computer among a mess of plastic bowls and plastic utensils and paper coffee cups. I’m sick of scuttling through the fluorescent-lit tunnel beneath Cross Campus to the dining hall three times a day, where I have to sanitize before getting my food and the tables are fixed with plexiglass dividers. I’m sick of my

cramped room, so small I hit my desk when I roll out of bed, I feel exhausted, overworked. I’m sick of my suitemates.

I miss the pressure of my shower at home, and the gurgle of my coffee maker, and the drawer next to the stove with all my favorite snacks. I miss stay ing in bed all morning, and getting up to my mom cooking breakfast in the kitchen, and the reliable clickety-clack of my dad’s typing. I miss laughing with my siblings all night. I miss having too much time to know what to do with.

l ate m arch, 2021

F uck it. Shirt, pants, underwear, socks, toiletries, don’t forget con tact solution, shove it into a backpack, bring tape in case it rips, Uber to the station—ticket, purchased, activated— Can I see your ticket? Metro North train rattling southwest over wooden tracks, lifting my mask for a quick bite of rub bery Sbarro pizza, Grand Central sta tion, shiny terrazzo floors give way to the familiar grit of the subway, shoving between rush-hour commuters on the downtown 4/5, this cannot be covid -safe, switch to the 2/3 at Nevins Street, ride a puff of hot air out onto the platform,

emerge into sweet pollen-scented air, 8th Avenue, petunias standing in a line above window boxes on Carroll, sheer white pillars on Garfield, mind the crack, bare branches of cherry trees, disrobed, delicate, a pirouetting ballerina with out her tutu, children laughing in the playground, a sign taped to the door, Welcome Home.

I know just who I’ll be when I get inside, and I know just how quickly I’ll want to leave again. I oscillate between two competing versions of myself— the part that rebels against this place, who yearns to go wherever it is you go to feel and hurt, and to come home triumphant, and the part who needs to be here because I don’t know what it means to exist anywhere else. For me, home is a riptide. It lurks always just beneath the surface, pulling me backward in time, back to the child cocooned in a circle of white light. I don’t think I can escape it until I learn how to want to. Maybe that’s what it means to grow up.

—Jesse Goodman is an Executive Editor of The New Journal and a junior in Berkeley College.

36 September 2022 The New Journal
Join us! The New Journal, founded in 1967, is a student-run magazine that publishes investigative journalism and creative non-fiction about Yale and New Haven. We produce five issues a year that include both long-form and short features, profiles, essays, reviews, poetry, and art. Email us at thenewjournal@gmail.com to join our writers’ panlist and get updates on future ways to get involved. We’re always excited to welcome new writers to our community. You can check out past issues of The New Journal at our website https://www.thenewjournalatyale.com.

In a brightly lit corner of Trumbull’s basement, between the pool table and the buttery, a little modernized slice of electronic his tory beeps and boops at pool sharks and passersby. The replica Ms. PacMan machine is free to play. Games like Galaga (1 and 2) and Donkey Kong pop up on the loading screen, but the headliners, the iconically hungry yellow ball and his wife, stand out at the top of the list.

On a few long winter nights last year, pushing the joystick down toward the bar stool, I guided the yellow pixels around the little maze-prison, full of points to accu mulate and ghosts to outsmart. At each new path, the Pixels (2015) star munched his way down the dashed line, offering me a respite from the rest of the weeknight evening spent munching through responsibilities arranged in a dashed line in my Google calendar.

With an unshakable reliance on G-Cal’s artificial memory to track classes, meetings, and sometimes social interaction, it’s easy to chew through a day, tasking away experi ences as scheduled instead of spon taneous. My late-night forays into the pixelated cartoon realm were a chance to leave my own chewable to-do list for a moment, in favor of something useless. I never got the machine’s highscore, not that I was really trying, and I never scheduled my interactions with the near-futile joystick in advance.

I haven’t visited the red joystick and nineteen-eighties sound bytes in a while. For now, they lie dormant under Elm Street, waiting for some one else to do something useless.

37The New Journal September 2022
all aside illustrations by charlotte rica Fitness Center 285 Nicoll Street, New Haven CT 06511 203-936-9446 www.mactivity.com


1. I wish we still took pictures of our hands and feet in the early mornings.

Roused from sleep to snap each other.

Rubbing at our elbows for warmth, sparks that neared and disappeared.

2. The sweetness of desire ripping from the chest when the ghost that you desire is mistiness, a gloss beyond the stretch of skin on bone the hip the strength you hope exists behind the veil beyond the quiet.

The Steadfast and Groundbreaking Reporting Process of Lazo Gitchos or A ProcrastinationApology Text to my Editor

Hi this is terrible of me! There are factors involved which could be in my control but I’ve chosen to release them, which is my fault. I’m sorry for the bad communication.

you to our donors.

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Jeffrey Foster David Gerber David Greenberg*

Matthew Hamel Makiko Harunari James Lowe Chaitanya Mehra Ben Mueller Sarah Nutman Peter Phleger

Jeffrey Pollock

Adriane Quinlan

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Fred Strebeigh Arya Sundaram

Stuart Weinzimer

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*Donated twice. Thank you!

38 September 2022 The New Journal

Classroom Hijinks


1 Smile wide

5 Highest paid athlete in 2022

10 Neurological condition often diagnosed first by teachers

14 Unite (with)

15 An actor or a representative thereof


17 375 × 20635897 / December jingler

19 City with a precarious landmark

20 Expensive bagel topper

21 Make dough

22 Lactic or galactic

23 Fighter pilot turned children’s author

24 The star Mars

26 Singer Streisand

29 455 × 121699 / Like baseball legend Joe Jackson, or hobbits

32 “Sweep the ___”

33 Marge, Lois or Skyler, to name a few

35 Many a hobbyist's first purchase

36 Chain of mountains

38 Red Cross offering

39 Not as risky

41 Product of sublimation

42 Owned (up)

45 Sometimes alternative to truth?

46 2 × 15520567 /

A miserable place

48 Grass variety named for its color

50 Toronto NHL team, to a fan

51 Early bloomers

52 “Of ___” (So to speak)


One delivering messages to the Senate

55 Alter promise


The “R” of P.R.

59 Device needed to solve, or spell, three answers in this puzzle

62 Word with stick or gun


Scientific theory often explained with a butterfly

64 “I’d like to be added to the chain”


Signature feature of an IPA

66 Wilson of “The Office”


Alternate nickname for Teddy DOWN

1 Thrown outside the strike zone

2 Cockney greeting

3 Trebek, longtime host of “Jeopardy”

4 “I messed up”, in slang

5 Popular accessory item of 2016

6 Member of a Tiktok subculture, often seen wearing black makeup and playing video games



8 Show that created Stefon and David S. Pumpkins, for short


“___ alive!”

10 Like snow-capped mountains

11 Question for which the answer is usually “no!”

12 Leftover part of a tamale

13 June 6, 1944

18 A vote of support, when doubled

22 Like the hypothetical children of Black Beauty and Eeyore

Obnoxious sort, for short 24 The Beatles’ “Revolution”, to “Hey Jude”

25 Whistle-blower, for short

26 Flat-bottomed boat

27 Default Google Docs font

28 Frat party staple

Sound of a perfect shot

30 Egyptian prefix meaning “sacred”

31 ___ throat

34 Common sidetable ornaments

It’s just a little higher than D


Unpaid laborer of the far North

Target of America's longest war

Subway fare?

Pulitzer biographer Leon

Actor who’s famously connected in the industry

Frustrated crossworder’s cry

Farmland skyscraper

Checkov work 55 Hankering

Feature of many new stadiums 57 Cookie often eaten with milk 59 “Fortunate Son” band, for short 60 Triumphant crossworder’s


answer grid,

The New Journal was founded in 1967, under the following mission statement: “This university has once again reached that stage in history when people are talking about the New Yale, presumably to be distinguished from the Old Yale, which in its own day was presumably considered new. Wishing to share in this modernity, we have chosen The New Journal as the name for our publication. Besides, things seemed slow around here.”

Today, The New Journal is published five times during the academic year by The New Journal at Yale, Inc. Two thousand five hundred copies of each issue are distributed free to members of the Yale and New Haven community. The New Journal is printed by TCI Press, Seekonk, Massachusetts; bookkeeping and billing services are provided by Colman Bookkeeping of New Haven. Office Address: P.O. Box 3311, New Haven, CT 06515.

While this magazine is published by Yale College students, Yale University is not responsible for its contents. All contents Copyright ©2022 by The New Journal at Yale, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction either in whole or in part without writ ten permission of the publisher and editors in chief is prohibited. Recycle Icon from Flaticon.com.

Puzzle by Jesse Goodman
39The New Journal September 2022
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cry 61
for it Crossword
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