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To: The Yale Community
From: President Peter Salovey
Posted Date: Jul 28, 2016 03:34:04 pm
Summary:  Today‚Äôs Decision by the National Labor Relations Board
Last Updated: Aug 23, 2016 04:14:21 pm Message ID: 139764

To the Yale Community,

As a Yale graduate student, professor, and administrator, I have experienced firsthand how the teacher-student relationship is central to the university’s academic enterprise. The mentorship and training that Yale professors provide to graduate students is essential to educating the next generation of leading scholars. I have long been concerned that this relationship would become less productive and rewarding under a formal collective bargaining regime, in which professors would be “supervisors” of their graduate student “employees.”

Today the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that graduate students at Columbia University, who assist with teaching and research as part of their education, are employees of that school. I disagree with this decision, which represents the third time in sixteen years that the board has changed its position on the question of whether graduate students are primarily students.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences enrolls the world’s most promising students in its doctoral programs. These students choose Yale for the opportunity to study with our outstanding faculty, and to take advantage of the university’s wide array of academic resources, generous financial aid, and comprehensive benefits. Yale will continue to provide exceptional support to our graduate students as they focus on their scholarship, successfully complete their degree programs, and find rewarding careers.

Although I disagree with the NLRB’s decision announced today, it presents an opportunity for our campus to engage in a robust discussion about the pros and cons of graduate student unionization. We should embrace the chance to debate this important issue, and we will conduct this campus discussion in a manner that is proper for a university—free from intimidation, restriction, and pressure by anyone to silence any viewpoint. All members of the Yale community should feel free to express their views on these matters, and we look forward to constructive and respectful discussions in the months ahead.


Peter Salovey
President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology