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Tension between Yale University's administrators and graduate students has come to a head during the past week. About 300 graduate students rallied outside of Yale's graduate school last Wednesday to protest disciplinary action that administrators have taken against three teaching assistants who are withholding the grades of undergraduates. The rally ended when 137 graduate students were accused of blocking a public street and taken to New Haven Police headquarters. Although the Graduate Employees and Students Organization stated in a press release that the graduate students had been arrested, Yale spokesperson Gary Fryer said they received appearance tickets for creating a nuisance in a public street. Members of GESO, who organized the rally, have been involved in a grade strike since December -- refusing to turn in fall semester grades until the Yale administrators agree to labor negotiations. For the past four years, Yale graduate students who serve as teaching assistants have asked the university to recognized them as regular employees. They have argued for higher teaching stipends and lower health insurance costs. Yale administrators view GESO as a student organization, Fryer said. "The university does not regard it to be a labor union and will not interact with it as labor union," he added. Following the rally last Thursday, GESO filed a federal charge with the National Labor Relations Board against Yale for their disciplinary action of graduate students. "We think it is time for the federal government to step in and to hold this university accountable," said Robin Brown, GESO chairperson. "We are confident that the NLRB will conclude that Yale is acting illegally." GESO also delivered a letter to Yale President Richard Levin Thursday outlining a proposal for an interim agreement between GESO and the Yale administrators. According to GESO, 200 graduate students are currently withholding grades. But Fryer said that of the 721 graduate students who were teaching assistant last fall, only 85 TAs have not turned in their grades. "The participation has truly been confined to a small section of the graduate students and we are of course quite pleased that they have recognized that they have an obligation to the undergraduates," Fryer said. For undergraduates such as seniors who are applying to graduate schools, Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead will be working with the various departments and their faculty to provide grades as soon as possible, Fryer added. Yale is currently in labor negotiations with the two employee unions, Local 34 and 35 of the Federation of University Employees, whose contract will expire on January 22. These unions are supportive of GESO and several of their members attended last Wednesday's rally.

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