Union protesters disrupted Yale’s commencement Monday, shouting into bullhorns and carrying signs reading “Stop Yale’s Corporate Greed” as proud parents snapped pictures of graduates.
Thousands of parents lining up to enter the Old Campus courtyard for commencement met the protesters head-on as pro-union speeches began on the adjacent New Haven town green. Some grumbled; others didn’t seem bothered.
“I didn’t pay that much attention to the protests. We’re too happy to notice,” said Carolyn Bradford, 46, of Vicksburg, Miss., who came to watch her goddaughter graduate.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who came to New Haven to support Yale’s two unions, spoke to about 3,500 protesters.
“Students leave with high IQs and Yale degrees, but without learning to respect janitors and taxi drivers,” Jackson said.
Inside the courtyard, the din could be heard throughout the ceremony despite the use of a souped-up sound system.
Yale President Richard C. Levin conferred 2,944 degrees to undergraduates and graduate students at the university’s 295th commencement. Just after degrees were handed out, about a half dozen undergraduates sympathetic to the unions silently walked to the front of the stage and held up yellow signs reading “Yale Settle” before walking out.