As of May 4, students and supporters at UC Berkeley have engaged in a hunger strike that has lasted 176 hours. The hunger strike is to protest the firing of several ethnic-studies staff members. The staff members were fired in response to an audit of university-wide operations carried out by consulting firm Bain and Company. Edward Rivero, a third-year ethnic studies student participating in the strike, stressed the fact that during budget cuts, “people of color are targeted first.”
Also present at the strike was ethnic studies lecturer Harvey Dong, who participated in the 1969 Third World Liberation Front–a movement that succeeded in implementing an ethnic studies department at UC Berkeley–and Professor Emiritus Carlos Munos, who was the first chair of Chicano Studies at California State University, Los Angeles.
The protestors have said that they are striking because ethnic studies are an essential part of the curriculum. To underscore the importance of ethnic studies, Munos, who is Mexican American, said that he remembers “being a graduate student and not being able to find books on ourselves. At that time we were an invisible people in this country.”
By: Ashley Truong