23 Yale grad students to do community service after their arrests for blocking New Haven streets
NEW HAVEN >> The 23 Yale graduate students who were arrested for blocking downtown streets recently agreed in Superior Court to do community service in exchange for the state almost certainly dropping the charges against them.
The students are affiliated with UNITE HERE Local 33, whose members -- some of them who had been fasting -- are trying to persuade university officials to recognize their new union of graduate students and come to the negotiating table. But the street-blocking protest was held to demand the university address alleged sexual harassment.
All of the students were charged with disorderly conduct. Three of them also were charged with interfering.
Those charged solely with disorderly conduct will do five hours each of community service, according to the attorney who represented all of the students, Hugh Keefe. The three who are charged with interfering as well as disorderly conduct will do 10 hours.
Yale officials have stated the university already has policies and procedures to address sexual harassment. As for the union issue, the university officials have noted that only 9 percent of the graduate students were eligible to vote and that Yale’s Graduate Student Assembly voted last fall to oppose Local 33.
A peaceful union demonstration that included about 1,600 people also took place Monday, during Yale’s commencement proceedings/
The arrested students’ cases were continued to Aug. 24, when they are due back in court. “This will give them an opportunity to do the community service,” Keefe said. He said prosecutors have assured him “they will have no problem with dismissal of the charges upon completion of community service.”
Keefe said the service will be done at sites such as New Haven’s soup kitchens.
“These are some of the finest people I’ve ever met,” Keefe said. “They are likable, principled and committed.”
Superior Court Judge Philip Scarpellino presided over the brief hearing.
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.