All the brilliant minds at Harvard can’t settle a student strike without a federal mediator? Really?

The Boston Globe reports:

Harvard calls for federal mediator in dispute with striking grad students

More than two weeks into a strike and with negotiations at an impasse, Harvard University is seeking outside help to resolve a long-running dispute with its graduate student workers union.

The university announced on Thursday that it wants to bring in a federal mediator to smooth out negotiations with the union in the hopes of coming to an agreement in the next few weeks, before the start of the new semester.

Despite a negotiation session earlier this week, the two sides remain divided on the core issues of pay and workplace protections. Graduate student workers, who help teach classes, grade papers, and manage research labs, have been on strike since Dec. 3.

Some end-of-semester study sessions for undergraduate students have been canceled, and in certain cases professors have cut back on the length of final papers or have opted to give multiple-choice exams, to reduce their grading workload while their graduate assistants are on strike.

It’s best if the sides can come to an agreement on their own, but sometimes that isn’t possible, said Arnold Zack, a senior research associate at Harvard Law School and a former president of the National Academy of Arbitrators.

“The mediator calms the waters,” Zack said. “It’s valuable to have independent assessment.”

Harvard continues to believe the strike is unnecessary, said Alan M. Garber, the university’s provost, in a message to the community on Thursday.

But the first contract with the new graduate student worker union is complex and continues to be challenging, Garber said in announcing that Harvard has proposed engaging the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

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