a tale of working at yale


Questions Frequently Asked of H.G. Salome

Q Did you sue Yale?

A No. I filed a charge against Yale with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB immediately accepted my case on the evidence I submitted, and would have prosecuted Yale if Yale had not settled with me or, had Yale ever faced me in a hearing, the results of contractual arbitration had not been satisfactory.

Q Did you ever have a grievance hearing?

A No. Three grievances were pending, but Yale stalled, stonewalled, temporized, and did whatever was necessary to avoid a hearing with me. When, under pressure from the NLRB, they could no longer avoid a hearing, they suddenly offered a settlement on my terms.

Q Did you win the settlement?

A A settlement can be of any sort, but, for any party, it is just what it means: you settle for something. Sometimes one settles because one cannot win; sometimes because of other factors. In this case, Yale could not win — if and when we got to a hearing or an arbitror or an NLRB court trial. For my part, Yale restored the contractual benefits that had been wrongfully taken from me at termination, cleared my record, and met the other remedies I asked for in my NLRB charge.

Q So you won?

A I endured. I got what I asked for, though I asked only for clearing my record and restoring benefits. But, yes, in the details of the settlement, Yale tacitly conceded my charges.

Q Then why are you publshing information on this website?

A The core issue of this affair was freedom of expression — Yale’s supression of my rights of freedom of expression. So it seems fitting that information about this case should be published. Furthermore, while Yale conceded my case, the settlement was so terse, the story behind it so long and complicated, that, on the surface, no one would know what transpired. No one may be interested in this story, but if someone is, it is here to read.

Q Does that mean you are still out to get Yale?

A I was never “out to get” Yale. I felt profound disappointment with my University. Readers should remember that Yale is a corporation, a bureaucracy composed of actual persons morally responsible for their actions. I would like to show who — what persons — were responsible for the violations of Yale’s policies, for corruption of its purported ideals, for mocking the Yale motto Lux et veritas — light and truth. What happened was not perpetrated by impersonal machinery; it was not an accident of the bureaucracy. It was not even a labor/management issue, though Yale tried to exploit it as such (which allowed me then to seek and receive support of the NLRB). It consisted of many, many actions over many years, all the result of deliberate and considered decisions by certain faculty and administrators.

Q What was the main issue under contention?

A Freedom of expression, which is an explicit policy of Yale University, without exception. I was harassed for at least ten years for having spoken or written critically about deceit, administrative failures, and violations of University policies and procedures by the Yale Center for International and Area Studies (YCIAS).

Q Why did you stay on? Why didn't you just quit?

A Even the Union advised me to quit. But family constraints did not permit me to quit. Anyway, had I quit under the pressure of harassment, would that have made anything right for those who remained?

Q Were there any “good guys”?

A Yes, a number of them: At the top are two of my colleagues (who continued to work there) and four influential senior professors (some of whom barely knew me) who took the trouble to speak on my behalf out of kindness and principle. Most of my own staff gave me moral support and more, at some risk to themselves. My attorney, with the backing of her law firm, directed me to the NLRB and through the final settlement — essentially pro bono. In the end, even the Union chief steward — who, with the rest of the Union, had earlier blown me off — came to understand all aspects of the case better than anyone else I knew and skillfully negotiated a settlement that suited me.

Q A lot of bad guys are mentioned. Was there one you consider the worst?

A The worst was Gaddis Smith, who was Director of YCIAS during much of the time. I am aware that many people thought William Foltz was the worst. Foltz had, after all, been Director of YCIAS before Gaddis Smith and, in fact, had been responsible for initiating the policies, the violations, the secrecy, and the decption that led to what happened with me. Foltz authored the gag order. But Gaddis Smith was by far the worst. Foltz, at least, was the kind of SOB who had his own thoughts (sneaky as they were) and would meet you face to face and fight his own fight. And he had a sense of humor.

Gaddis Smith, however, unlike Foltz, was a humorless coward who hid behind his reputation and — worse — behind his (female) staff. Smith, unlike Foltz, never seemed to have had an original thought, malign or benign. Instead, he had had many years of practice at Yale — beginning even as an undergraduate — and an evident unscrupulous aptitude for appropriating the ideas of others and the sense of the times. This — and perhaps his upper-crusty connections — allowed him to insinuate himself into the “respect” of enough of the naive scholarly establishment at Yale that his credentials, not to mention his morals, were seldom questioned, his motives seldom suspected. He was seen in that most self-consciously liberal, yet subconsiously class-consious world of the Ivy League as the quintessential liberal “Old Blue.”

But he was not. Of all the people I ever knew at Yale, in any social stratum, I never knew anyone but Gaddis Smith who exhibited sadistic glee at the discomfort and humiliation of others.

Q So, do you think the administrators and faculty who perpetrated the harassment were punished in any way as a result of the case you filed?

A Not at all. No one was punished. As far as I know, all the “perps” — University officers, faculty, administrators — flourished and continued in their ways, reputations and compensation intact. I only assume that they felt victory to be rid of me.

Q But weren't you glad to get rid of them?

A Of course.

Last updated 12 December 2022 (Monday) at 18:44:55 EST