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May 01, 2017 09:41 AM EDT

Yale University graduate teachers recently started a protest in the form of a hunger strike to get the official of the Ivy League institution to begin negotiations with them. The school has released a statement on the issue.

Eight teachers, four men and four women, announced the fast. They are part of graduate teachers' union Local 33-Unite Here. The hunger strike came at the end of a silent march in the rain from College Street to the home of Yale President Peter Salovey on Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven Register reported.

The march was led by Mayor Toni Harp. Local clergy and several members of the city's Board of Alders joined the silent protest as well as hundreds of graduate teachers and their supporters.

The hunger strike was dubbed as "Fast Against Slow." Yale University graduate teachers who took part in the fast were commended by Democratic National Committee Vice Chairwoman Maria Elena Durazo.

In its official website, Yale issued a statement saying that it believes that the hunger strike is "unwarranted by the circumstances." The university went on to clarify that they strongly urge students not to put their health at risk or encourage others to do so.

President Peter Salovey admitted that his primary concern is for the health and safety of the students. He explained that he deeply respected their right to freedom of speech and expression but also urged them to reconsider this decision, which may bring harm to their well-being.

The protest was organized to pressure Yale University officials to begin negotiations with graduate teachers in eight academic departments. This comes after the results of a Feb. 23 vote by graduate student teachers in several departments to form a union.

One female graduate teacher, Julia Powers, who teaches comparative literature, said that the school tried to assign a "sexual predator" to oversee her work and decide her future. She added that there is an ongoing crisis on campus that the university ignores.

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