Flashback Friday: hunger strikes at other schools

Stanford University was not the only institution that experienced a hunger strike in 1994. In fact, students at UC-Santa Barbara, University of Colorado and UCLA held similar protests, and all around the same time. Below is an article that appeared on Thursday, May 5, 1994.

Similar struggles

by Scott van Winkle, staff writer

Students mobilizing around Chicano issues on other campuses

The scene that greeted Stanford students cutting through the Quad yesterday morning —students marching, tents and banners blocking off the center of campus — may have surprised many, but it is not an isolated event.

Nine students at UC-Santa Barbara will begin their ninth day of fasting today, and a hunger strike on the University of Colorado campus at Boulder concluded only last week. Both events, as well as a 14-day protest at UCLA last spring, attempted to force recognition of Chicano/Latino issues.

UC-Santa Barbara protesters are demanding a moratorium on student-fee increases, a university-wide boycott of grapes, a doctoral program in Chicano studies, a community center in neighboring East La Vista and 15 more Chicano/Latino faculty members.

The boycott, organized by campus Chicano/Latino group El Congreso, has blocked off the main administrative building on campus and garnered national attention from Spanish language television, according to UC-Santa Barbara spokesperson Joan McGridden.

A “negotiating team” of four high-level administrators has been meeting with students over the past four days to end the strike, said McGridden.

El Congreso chair Abel Gutierrez said that after “feeling out” students, administrators offered counter-proposals to meet some of their demands, and students revised their stipulations in later negotiations. UC-Santa Barbara currently has the only Chicano studies department in the University of California system. Three full-time and one half-time faculty positions are allocated to the program.

Another fast on the University of Colorado campus at Boulder ended last week when school President Judith Albino agreed to striking students’ goal of an ethnic studies department at the university. Thirty-seven students, many of them members of the campus chapter of MEChA — a Chicano/Latino student group — and United Mexican-American Students, began the strike during a rally urging the university to grant Asst. Prof. Estevan Flores tenure.

While Albino agreed to some of the group’s demands in principle, the decision on whether to renew Flores’ tenure has not yet been made, according to university spokesperson Jeannine Malmsbury.

Ethnic studies had been “in the works” for a while before the strike began, Malmsbury added.

Last year’s 14-day hunger strike on the UCLA campus, in which nine people called for a Chicano studies department, was perhaps the most highly publicized of recent campus strikes.

UCLA has since established the Cesar Chavez Center for Chicano Studies and named UCLA Assoc. Dean Carlos Grijalva as director. Grijalva said he personally favors compromise to affect change instead of the “extremist kind of approach” represented by hunger strikes, while admitting the strike “moved the timetable [for the center] forward significantly.”

The success of the strike was “a matter of timing” that depended on “getting people engaged in the process” after the strike ended, he said. “Without faculty support their attempts are going to be attempts in futility.”

 

Compiled by Andrew Vogeley

About Andrew Vogeley

Andrew Vogeley is a desk editor at The Stanford Daily, covering the ASSU and student groups. He is a freshmen from the great state of Texas.