Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Update on the Hunger Strike: Day 14

Today marks two full weeks since the hunger strike at UC Berkeley officially began. Yesterday, the Daily Cal published an article on the protest action, but for some reason claimed that the strikers were only in their tenth day without food. What, weekends don't count? The least they can do is get the numbers right! [Update: Our bad -- we got confused because the article was published on Monday with the headline that said the strike was in its tenth day, but in fact it was referring to the rally last Friday. Sorry about that.]

As we've reported here, the strikers' demands revolve around the UC administration's decision to consolidate three departments -- Ethnic Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, and African American Studies -- under the umbrella of their austerity program "Operational Excellence." In this case, "consolidation" means cuts, including staff layoffs and what looks like it could turn into something like speed-up for faculty. While the administration has struck all the right rhetorical tones (equality, inclusion, diversity, etc), they refuse to do anything material to respond to the demands. And this when the university is selling billions of dollars worth of construction bonds to engage in massive and secretive building projects that, in at least some cases, have gone millions of dollars over budget.

The above video was filmed on May 6, the actual tenth day of the hunger strike. In addition to giving an update on the (almost) current state of the strike, some of the speakers provide some really helpful context about the history of ethnic studies. This is useful for those folks who don't know much about the Third World Liberation Front and the story of student strikes and protests (and, of course, police repression) at SF State and Berkeley that led to the establishment of Ethnic Studies as a department. Here's a pretty detailed timeline of the protests of 1968-69 at SF State.



  1. This is totally insane! hunger strike because of university cuts? I am genuinely shocked that anyone would do this. Hunger strike is one of the most extreme acts of protest and should justify the level of oppression that is being inflicted upon the victim.

  2. I agree that hunger strikes are an extreme act of protest, but I think it's fitting with the narrative around budget cuts. They are demanding austerity--austerity, for many working class and poor folks, comes in the form of being without food. I've lived that many times. Hunger is part of austerity. Thus, a physical manifestation of what austerity means, through a hunger strike, might be justifiable. I won't rule on it, but that's how I see it.