Hunger strike continues through a second day

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A group of about 12 hunger strikers with their supporters gathered for a second day outside of California Hall to protest the consolidation of three UC Berkeley social science departments.

But after holding a rally and sending in delegates to meet with administrators regarding the protesters' demands, no resolution was reached, and the hunger strike was set to continue as of press time.

The strike began Tuesday afternoon, and the demonstrators continued to be camped outside the hall into the early hours of Wednesday before receiving a disbursement order from UCPD, according to UC Berkeley senior Horacio Corona. They returned Wednesday morning with a crowd of around 40 people rallying at 3 p.m. to hear speeches by professors from the consolidated social science departments as well as from organizations around the county. Despite the fact that five delegates - three strikers and two supporters - met with campus administrators, as of Wednesday evening, demands remain unresolved.

According to sophomore and student organizer Marco Amaral, "there were things within the demands that were met and things that were not." He did not specify which were approved by administrators.

Campus spokespeople could not be reached as of press time.

Demands outlined by strikers included reinstatement of full-time equivalent staff positions in the African American studies, ethnic studies and gender and women's studies departments, an end to Operational Excellence, official campus support of California Legislative Resolution ACR 34 and public acknowledgment of the creation of a Third World College on campus.

After 3 p.m., speeches were presented to a crowd of about 70 students. Carlos Munoz, a professor emeritus of ethnic studies, read from a resolution written by Assemblymember Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, a UC Berkeley alumnus. He also expressed his support for students involved in the hunger strike and rejected Operational Excellence and cuts stemming from the program.

"You have my complete support in solidarity," Munoz said in the speech. "If we're not here physically, we'll be here in spirit."

Similar speeches from other organizations, including an Oakland-based group, Homies Empowerment Program, echoed Munoz's call to fight against the cuts.

At around 4:05 p.m., three hunger strikers and two members of the coalition went inside California Hall to negotiate with Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri.

Supporters of the strike include members of the Coalition for Gender and Women's Studies, African American Studies and Ethnic Studies as well as members of the Ethnic Studies Undergraduate Graduate Front.

The negotiators exited the hall at 5:16 p.m. and met with protesters to discuss the meeting and consider their next move.

"Hopefully we can get another meeting soon and further the process along," Amaral said. "There's a lot of optimism."

When the negotiations ended, the crowd began to trickle away from the demonstration. As of press time, about 40 remained on the lawn outside of California Hall.

Though the protesters had to vacate the area the night before, following UCPD's disbursement order, Corona said as of press time that even if the organizers receive the same order Wednesday night, they plan to stay until all of the demands are met.

The protesters are planning another demonstration at 3 p.m. Thursday and a larger rally at noon on Friday, according to Amaral.


Contact Aaida Samad and Victoria Pardini at [email protected]

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