Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Yale Republicans Fired up the BBQ Next to Symbolic Non-hunger Hunger Strikers
Yale grad students are on a hunger strike demanding Yale engage them in collective bargaining. Hunger strikes can be effective in creating change, but not this time. Gandhi engaged in 17 fasts/hunger strikes totaling 135 days in South Africa and India. His noble purposes were to promote Indian independence and the plight of the India people. He rode trains around Indi, always in third class, the cramped, non-air conditioned, often standing accommodations. This class became known as Gandhi Class. The “hunger” striking Yale graduate students currently receive free tuition and a stipend of $30,000. If they are single, they receive half of the health insurance premiums if married. They receive 100% if married with a child. They earn Yale degrees. Gandhi suffered for the people, his people. The Yalis are doing it for themselves. Women suffragettes engaged in hunger strikes a century ago in England and the United States in the noble cause of woman suffrage. Several died in the effort. They suffered for women rights. Our Yale “hunger” strikers are engaged in a symbolic hunger strike. They are free to eat when they feel hunger pangs. They’re not suffering. Several imprisoned IRA members engaged in hunger strikes in Belfast prison in 1980 and 1981. Ten died, including Bobby Sands who was elected to Parliament during his fast. They suffered for the Irish people, Catholic and Protestant. Cesar Chavez often engaged in hunger strikes for the farm workers, his people, the under-privileged farm workers. The Yalis are of the privileged class in America. I have trouble picturing them chanting “Solidarity Forever” even if they are members of Local 33 Unite Here International Union. They are not the UAW workers at the Ford Overpass 80 years ago May 26, 1937. The Yale graduate students are not the GM workers staging a sit-in in Flint, Michigan on December 29, 2036. Those strikers risked their lives. Our Yale students are making, at best, a symbolic sacrifice. Yale has not recently been the champion of promoting free speech and open dialogues. It scraped John C. Calhoun because of his slavery past. It refused to support two masters because some students were offended by their statements 1 1/2 year ago. Yale might under different circumstances have shut down the BBQ because it is “offensive” to other students. However, Yale has a three decade record of fighting employee and staff organizing and collective bargaining.