The Daily Californian Online

Hunger Strike Will Continue Through Weekend

By Katrina Escudero
Contributing Writer
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Category: News > University > Academics and Administration

In response to the demands of hunger strikers, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau issued a statement this afternoon calling for the repeal of a recently passed Arizona immigration law, but demonstrators say they will continue their strike until Birgeneau returns to UC Berkeley from Europe next week.

About 18 students and union workers in the "Hungry for Justice Coalition" entered their 100th hour without food when Birgeneau's statement was released. The strikers have been camped out in front of California Hall since Monday afternoon, surviving only on cranberry juice and water laced with sugar and lemon.

In the statement, Birgeneau said the passage of the new immigration law "has created a chilling climate for many members of our campus community" and that he is "profoundly distributed" by the passing of the law.

Birgeneau said other universities should serve as communities of freedom and that these ideals cannot exist while students feel they are being targeted for the color of their skin.

"SB 1070, which President Obama has called 'misguided,' should be repealed and replaced with comprehensive federal immigration reform that will best serve our country and protect the rights of all who aspire to live in this great nation," Birgeneau said in the statement. "As an academic community, we stand ready to use our immense intellectual resources to assist the president in this task."

Demonstrators said they stand by their prior demands, asking Birgeneau to publicly denounce Arizona's immigration law; make UC Berkeley a sanctuary campus and provide extended protections for undocumented students; drop all student conduct charges against student activists; stop cuts to low-wage employees; suspend conduct procedures and initiate a democratic, student-led process to review the code; and to commit to using nonviolent means of ensuring safety at student demonstrations in the future.

In a previous statement released Wednesday, Birgeneau addressed each of the demonstrators' six demands, but did not fully agree to them.

Representatives of the strikers met with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande Thursday in order to discuss their concerns and demands, but they did not make negotiations.

After the discussion, the strikers said they would continue their protest until they speak with Birgeneau directly. They urged supporters to e-mail the administration with personal stories of how the Arizona law affects them in order for the administration to understand how the immigration law impacts UC Berkeley students.

"To see the protesters here gives me energy," said UC Berkeley sophomore Alejandro Jimenez while addressing the strikers. "I encourage you to stay strong, to hang in there and to know that you are inspiring a lot of people, keep it up."

Emma Anderson of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

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