Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hunger Strike Update: Day 7

The hunger strike at UC Berkeley to defend Ethnic Studies is still going strong. After more or less ignoring them for a week, the administration finally agreed to negotiations with the strikers this morning. We'll bring updates as we receive them.

Yesterday, UC Berkeley Professor of Ethnic Studies Carlos Muñoz sent out the following email which lays out some of the immediate stakes and concrete effects of the administration's unilateral decision to merge Ethnic Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and African American Studies together under the umbrella of its austerity program "Operational Excellence." The email also includes a statement from California Assemblyman Ricardo Lara in solidarity with the hunger strike.
From: Carlos Munoz, Jr. [cmjr@berkeley.edu]
Sent: Monday, May 02, 2011 12:45 PM
Subject: 10 University of California, Berkeley, students are on hunger strike due to Ethnic Studies Department staff layoffs

Dear Friends,

Budget cuts are in the process of being made in most departments on our campus. But, although it cannot be documented at this point, I agree with our students that our Ethnic Studies Department has suffered more than other departments. Last week, we lost 2.5 staff FTE. One full time and one part time (50%) member of our staff were terminated. Two other full time staff members were cut to 50% time. In addition to these recent cuts, the department previously lost two full time staff members to retirement. Those positions were never replaced. Therefore, it can be said that the department has lost a total of 4.5 staff positions.

Last week Ethnic Studies students and faculty protested the staff cuts. Ten students went on hunger strike last Tuesday. Today marks the 6th day of their strike.

I am pleased to report that Assemblyman Ricardo Lara has sent out a Press Release and a personal letter of solidarity to our students on hunger strike. His letter is attached and his PR is below. Peace, Profe


For Immediate Release
Contact: Julia Juarez
(562) 445-7716


SACRAMENTO -Assembly Concurrent Resolution 34, authored by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), is at the center of a hunger strike at the University of California Berkeley where students are protesting the university's lack of commitment to Ethnic Studies. ACR 34 highlights the importance of ethnic studies as an academic discipline and recognizes its research, scholarship and programs that study and teach the experiences, history, culture and heritage of African Americans, Asian Americans, Chicanas/os and Latinas/os, Native Americans, and other persons of color in the United States.

"At a time when Ethnic Studies programs throughout the nation are under attack, it is imperative that we take a stand and recognize the important contributions of California's Ethnic Studies departments and programs, including their faculty, staff and students," said Assembly Member Lara.

This student led hunger strike is demanding:

1. Reinstate the FTE staff positions in Ethnic Studies cut by organizational simplification under the UC's plan for Operational Excellence
2. End the current process of Operational Excellence which seeks to consolidate Ethnic Studies with Gender and Women's Studies and African American Studies into a single department
3. Publicly support Assembly Member Lara's Legislative Resolution ACR 34
4. Publicly acknowledge the unfulfilled promise of the creation of a Third World College at the University of California Berkeley


  1. Take heart, you have friends. Even if small battles are lost on earth in narrow fractions of time, you will ever win in the moral arc of the universe.

    My previous comment was "unable to be processed." Accident? Conspiracy? We know all web services, all tech companies, are beholden to the will of the U.S. federal law. That long arm of the law forever usurps the whim of private companies or private citizens.

  2. So, Osama Bin Laden is shot by a bullet and the code word "Geronimo" was used, with no idea of the offense...while UC Berkely profs, who would have elucidated us on why such a name is offensive for our department of defense to use, are dying a slow death of starvation.
    The rallying cry of "states rights" and all the ways the appropriations bills are argued are proof that the Civil War in this country has been ongoing for 150 straight years. Slavery continued in moral and social terms with Jim Crow, and some people are still fighting mad over losing THAT battle (the ending of Jim Crow and the winning of black suffrage).

    Banishing ethnic studies is an ideological fight every bit as blood-filled, tear-filled, and faith-filled as Scarlet O'Hara mourning her lost "Terra."

    We consistently think we can shoot or kill ideology out of people. The battle of Antietam spilled a lot of blood but did not reduce racism in our country not one single iota. It is every bit alive and well today as it was in 1710, 1810, 1860, 1960, or 2008. Why on earth do we think we can "change hearts and minds" to reduce ideological Taliban in Afghanistan when we can't close the Civil War here, and we can't name the racism of Trump, the birthers and truthers here for what it is?

  3. UC Berkeley profs... or grad students. On the "Geronimo" codename, check out zunguzungu here and some more links here.