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After the Strike, Looking Forward

When Yale and its two major unions announced on September 18 that a contract settlement had finally been reached, thus ending a wrenching three-week strike, the larger message was that a new era of labor harmony was dawning at the university.

This was welcome news, especially considering that Yale has been rocked by nine strikes since 1968, earning it the distinction of having the worst labor relations of any American university. But how do you undo a campus tradition that’s practically as ingrained as tailgating at Yale-Harvard football games or green cups at Mory’s?

The numbers of the final settlement fell in between the pre-strike proposals offered by the university and the union. In exchange for a longer contract—eight years rather than six—the university added a percentage point to the raises it had proposed for the latter half of the contract. Local 34, which represents Yale’s clerical and technical workers, will get wage increases of four to five percent each year, and Local 35, representing the university’s service and maintenance workers, will receive raises of three to four percent. The multiplier that determines employee pensions in the new contract ranges from 1.3 to 1.5 percent—more than the 1.25 percent in the university’s previous offer but less than the 1.95 percent the unions were seeking. On another contentious point—making all raises retroactive to January 2002, when the last contract expired—the two sides settled on 67 percent retroactive pay. (The union had wanted 100 percent, while the university had offered half.)

Both sides consider the length of the contract to be significant because it allows them time to rebuild their relationship before having to sit down at the bargaining table again. Because the last contract expired in January 2002, the two parties have six years for this process.

So what needs to happen to avoid a recurrence of the labor strife that has bedeviled the campus for so long? Everyone agrees that the people Yale chooses to fill two empty administrative posts will be key. The first is the vice presidency for finance and administration, last held by Robert Culver, and the second is the associate vice presidency for administration, formerly held by Peter Vallone. “Those two appointments are critical,” says John Wilhelm, leader of the national Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, to which Yale’s 4,000 unionized workers belong. “They need to be filled by people who have as a major priority fixing this broken relationship.”

Beyond that, Wilhelm recommends that at least initially, both sides tackle smaller issues that everyone agrees need fixing, such as increasing Yale’s hiring of Latinos. He also thinks enlisting the services of an objective outside facilitator would be beneficial.

Janet Lindner, who stepped into Vallone’s job temporarily after he left, says the new contract calls for the creation of a labor-management cooperative. “We’re going to start that very soon,” she says. “The first step is working out among ourselves some ground rules—Where do we want to be? Where do we see this program going?—just talking to each other and listening.”

New Haven mayor John DeStefano Jr. was widely credited with getting Wilhelm and Yale president Richard Levin to the bargaining table and helping hammer out a settlement. DeStefano says that if labor relations are truly going to change, Wilhelm and Levin need to stay involved. “If their personal engagement is not present, it will send a signal that this is not important,” DeStefano says. He also suggests that both sides draw up “an agenda of items of mutual interest.” Finally, he says, Yale’s handling of the current union organizing drive of Yale–New Haven Hospital workers is important. Although the hospital is a corporation separate from the university, Levin sits on the board and there are strong business and academic ties. “That will be a factor in setting the tone for the relationship between the unions and the university,” the mayor says.

Everyone agrees it won’t be easy, but the feeling seems to be that the time is right. “I’m optimistic,” Lindner says. “I think both parties really want it to change, and that’s what it takes.”


Sound Renovation for Sprague

The unveiling of a newly renovated Sprague Memorial Hall in early September drew alumni, music lovers, President Richard Levin—and a cluster of noisy, striking picketers protesting the fact that the revamped hall was being maintained by non-union subcontracted workers.

But inside the hall, a packed crowd heard only the subtleties of Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp Minor.

“Actually, it was a really good test for the soundproofing qualities of Sprague Hall,” said Vincent Oneppo, the director of the concert office. “I don’t think we’ll ever have that much noise outside again.”

Acoustically, the hall has always earned good reviews, but the 86-year-old building was seriously outdated. There was no air conditioning, which meant that on warm days the windows had to stay open, and even quiet conversations outside on Wall Street could disrupt concerts. The heating system was so loud employees would blast the heat during the day and turn it off during evening performances to maintain a comfortable temperature.

So, two years ago, the firm of renowned acoustician R. Lawrence Kirkegaard and the architecture firm Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg launched a $20 million project to overhaul the nuts and bolts of the hall without
compromising its sound. “If you did it wrong, you could really harm the acoustics,” says project acoustician Joseph Myers.

The feedback so far suggests the opposite happened. Among other improvements, Myers installed additional panes of thick glass to the windows—the hall is now virtually airtight—angling the panes slightly to reduce what he called “a clattery build-up of sound.” He also added window shades to control the sound and darken the room. And to further reduce noise, the hall’s new cooling and heating system is actually housed in an adjacent tower built for the purpose.

“Sprague Hall was always one of the musical gems of this part of the country,” says Robert Blocker, dean of the School of Music. “We wanted to retain as much of the original look and feeling of the hall as we possibly could, while at the same time making it a modern concert hall.”


Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Wish to Party

It was fun while it lasted, but the Pierson Inferno was just hell on the furniture. Pierson College master Harvey Goldblatt shut down Yale’s most celebrated Halloween party this year, terminating a 25-year tradition that had become increasingly rowdy. Last year’s event, which drew 3,000 people and resulted in the destruction of a valuable piece of furniture, was the last straw, says Goldblatt: “When I saw the pieces of the broken table, I knew the party could not go on.”

Pierson student activities committee chair Dylan Davey '05 concedes that the Inferno had grown out of control. “Last year was nuts, a zoo,” she says. “I was running around in four-inch heels trying to keep the police from shutting us down. I ended up acting as a human blockade to keep hordes of drunk Yalies from crashing the party.” The party was to be replaced this year by a smaller, Pierson-only event.

The Inferno is the second notorious undergraduate party to get the ax in the last year. Citing similar problems, Timothy Dwight master Robert Thompson put an end to the college’s Exotic Erotic, an exhibitionist venue whose slogan was “The less you wear, the less you pay.” But the venerable Morse-Stiles Casino Night—perhaps saved by the civilizing influence of black tie and roulette—lives on.


Before “The Game,” It’s “The Game Show”

In most things intercollegiately competitive, Yale fans rarely concern themselves with who wins the championship so long as Yale beats Harvard. And when the Jeopardy! College Championship came to New Haven the first weekend of October to tape ten shows in Yale’s Lanman Center, this rule was proven once again. Fifteen college students from fifteen different colleges—including Yale student Robby Schrum '05 and Harvard junior Mary Naam—were pitted against one another for the chance to win $50,000 in cash, a $50,000 scholarship, and a new car. And while the final outcome can only be seen on Jeopardy! November 10-21, we can report that the Bulldogs won the match that matters.

Yale contestant Schrum and the other 14 made the cut for the show by taking written exams and playing mock Jeopardy! games at talent searches around the country. Each of them faced off against two others in one of the first five shows, with the winners of each show and the four highest-scoring runners-up going on to the semifinals.

Inside the Lanman Center, where a set had been erected featuring images of Harkness Tower, the Law School, and the Hall of Graduate Studies, the hometown crowd whooped it up when they learned the first match would feature Yale vs. Harvard. During the breaks in taping, host Alex Trebek had to warn the audience not to cheer every time Schrum answered a question correctly. But the game’s other competitor, a student at the University of Southern California, amassed an unassailable lead before the Final Jeopardy! round, and Schrum and his Harvard rival were left to fight for a high runner-up score to advance to the semifinals.

Going into Final Jeopardy! Schrum had $5,700; the Harvardian, $5,600. Both of them bet it all, and Schrum happened to know the answer to the question (which country controlled New Orleans during the Revolutionary War? Spain, not France). Naam did not. Schrum went on to the semifinals while the Harvard student had to content herself with “parting gifts.” And the crowd went wild.


Broadway Landmark Closes Its Doors

The university’s real estate arm is determined to make the Broadway retail area—once a danger zone after dark—into a safe and inviting destination at night. But its “Open until 9!” campaign is a big reason one long-time Broadway retailer is closing for good.

After nearly 70 years on York Street, Barrie Ltd. Booters went out of business in October. Co-owner John Isaacs says a 70 percent rent increase and new requirements imposed by his landlord, Yale, could only have been met at the expense of customer service. “The whole methodology and philosophy of how to run our business would have to change,” he says. Yale requires merchants to stay open until 9 p.m. six days a week and on Sunday afternoons, 361 days a year. Barrie's, which was founded in 1934 by Isaacs’s grandfather, typically closed at 5:30 or 6 p.m.

Isaacs, who owns the business with his father, also closed the other Barrie’s store in West Hartford. “It can’t stand alone,” he says, adding that changes in the shoe industry also contributed to the decision to pack it in. Part of the stores' appeal is their exclusive Barrie Ltd. line, says Isaacs, but it’s hard finding manufacturers who will make the shoes in such small runs.

Director of University Properties David Newton says there are 31 merchants in the Broadway area, 17 of whom are Yale tenants. “All but six are open evenings and on Sundays, so clearly people see the value of extended hours,” he says. Calling the Barrie’s location “arguably the best corner in that district” Newton says that to have it dark after 5:30 p.m. and on Sundays “just doesn’t make sense.” He says a new tenant will be found as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Barrie’s sold a record-breaking 850 pairs of shoes the week after news broke about the closing. “People tell me they’ve been buying shoes here all their lives and now they don’t know what they’re going to do,” Isaacs says. “That’s what I feel most badly about.”


Sporting Life
New Kid on the Ice

Hilary Witt is only 25 years old and has a mere two years of coaching experience, but she’s already setting big goals for Yale’s historically disappointing women’s hockey program. Last year, she got off to a good start by winning the ECAC’s Coach of the Year award.

“I want to totally change the women’s hockey program at Yale,” says Witt, who was named head coach this summer after a season as interim coach. “That’s the ultimate goal.”

And you don’t want to get between Hilary Witt and the goal.

Witt’s high school hockey coach made that mistake. When Witt was in the tenth grade, he told her that she wasn’t good enough to play at the college level. “It was pretty irritating,” says Witt. “And it really motivated me.”

Three years later, as a freshman at Northeastern University, Witt led the hockey team to an ECAC championship, scoring the winning goal of the deciding game and earning Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament. She went on to score more than 100 goals and rack up more than 200 total points in her career at Northeastern—both school records.

Witt played for the U.S. national team after four years of college, but after a series of injuries she was cut from the team before its pre-Olympic tour. A few days later, she received an offer from Yale to serve as an assistant women’s hockey coach. Then, last year, when the head coach’s job opened up, she was given the interim position and a chance to show what she could do to turn the program around.

In its 27-year history, the Yale women’s team has rarely challenged for an Ivy or ECAC championship and has recorded only a handful of winning records—most recently during the 1985-86 season. “I remember playing Yale, and it was a joke,” says Witt of her days at Northeastern. “I’d never had a losing season before coming to Yale. And I don’t like it.”

After Witt became interim coach last season, the team finished 9-20-2—still a losing record, but the squad earned a slot in the ECAC playoffs and was consistently competitive in a way that Yale teams had not been in a long time. In games against national championship contenders like Harvard, Dartmouth, and Brown, the Bulldogs forced their rivals to slash and scrape their way to victory. Blowout losses were few and far between, and the team even managed to pull off big upsets against Princeton and nationally ranked Cornell. It was this newfound tenacity that inspired Witt’s fellow ECAC coaches to make her Coach of the Year.

“Some people were worried about her being so young, and not very experienced,” says Kristin Kattleman '04, the current team captain, “but the players, we pushed for her. She brought intensity and a demanding work ethic. I don’t think that our record showed how we improved as a team, but when you look at our stats, you can see it. Our whole team’s mentality completely changed. We worked much harder. And we knew going in that we could win every game.”

Now, Witt wants to translate that winning attitude into actual wins. “My biggest goal for this year is to finish above .500,” she says.

And what did we say about Hilary Witt and the goal?  the end








Half a museum is better than none? To help steer patrons to the right entrance during the Art Gallery’s two-year renovation of its Louis Kahn building, the gallery installed new banners by Lesley Tucker '01MFA that reflect the collection’s temporary truncation.






From the Collections

However much he may have shaken up the staid New England establishment, preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards, Class of 1720, was a model Yankee when it came to thrift. This peculiarly shaped Edwards manuscript from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was written on “fan paper”—the scraps left over from when his wife and daughters made and decorated fans for sale in Boston. With 11 children, every penny counted for the Northampton parson. “His congregation wasn’t very forthcoming with salary,” says Kenneth Minkema, executive editor of the Works of Jonathan Edwards at Yale. The university recently concluded a series of events celebrating the 300th anniversary of Edwards’s birth.







Campus Clips

Forty-four Yale Law School professors have filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department over rules that require universities to allow military recruiters access to students. Yale and other law schools have sought to exclude military recruiters from on-campus programs because they discriminate against homosexuals.

A panel of professors and former labor officials convened by the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO) heard testimony in September that Yale faculty and police may have threatened or intimidated GESO members during their organizing efforts. The university administration dismissed the panel as “highly partisan” and its hearing as “a show trial.”

With two major union contracts finally settled, attention now turns to the Yale Police, whose union has been without a contract since May 2002. Officers handed out leaflets during Parents' Weekend to publicize their disagreement with the university over wages, benefits, pensions, and disciplinary procedures.

The university’s endowment grew to $11 billion during the fiscal year ending June 30. Chief investment officer David Swensen and his team reported an 8.8 percent return in a year when the Standard & Poor’s 500 earned just 0.3 percent.

A student from Colorado visiting a friend at Yale died on October 19 after falling from a fifth-floor window in Durfee Hall. Nineteen-year-old Anthony Bekennie’s death was ruled an accident.







Sports Shorts

The football team won its first four games for the first time since 1981, starting off with a 62-28 win over Towson University and beating Cornell, Holy Cross, and Dartmouth before losing to undefeated Colgate on October 18.

Also starting strong was the men’s soccer team, which was ranked 16th in the country in mid-October after dramatic wins over nationally ranked Stanford and Connecticut.
In only her second college tournament, freshman golfer Cindy Shin won first place at the Yale Invitational Tournament October 4 and 5, edging out Princeton’s Meg Nakamura. But just as at the Princeton Invitational the week before, the Bulldog team had to settle for second place overall behind the Tigers, their longtime rival for Ivy dominance.

The men’s lightweight crew placed second in the light-weight eights race at the 39th annual Head of the Charles regatta on October 19, 12
seconds behind the New York Athletic Club. Yale came in 12th in the men’s heavyweight eights, and the women’s crew placed fourth in the women’s championship eights.


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