Hungry students and their supporters sit for the seventh day in front of University of California
at Berkeley’s California Hall. The students asked University Chancellor Robert Birgeneau
yesterday to reinstate fired ethnic-studies staff members.
“We’re still here, we’re still fighting and basically, we’re not going anywhere,” said a weary-
looking, third-year Native American studies major, Zoila Lara-Cea.
The cuts resulted from a comprehensive audit of university operations conducted by the
consulting firm Bain and Company that suggested trimming staff positions from
the Ethnic Studies department.
Even though cuts are distributed university-wide, “people of color are targeted first,” asserted
third-year ethnic studies student, Edward Rivero.
Several professors who had advocated for the department’s
creation in the late 1960s were present at the demonstrations.
As a UC student, Harvey Dong, now an ethnic studies lecturer, participated in the 1969 Third
World Liberation Front, a movement that lead to the creation of the department, which
became a model for similar programs nationwide. Professor Emeritus Carlos Muños benefitted
from the efforts of the movement and became the first chair of Chicano Studies at California
State University, Los Angeles.
A Mexican American, Muños remembers “being a graduate student and not being
able to find books on ourselves.” He added, “At that time we were an invisible people in this
While the field of ethnic studies has since matured, Muños said students must continue to fight for the
survival of the field, and students at UC Berkeley plan on doing just that. Claire Buss, two-time
hunger striker who hadn’t eaten in 176 hours when interviewed for this story said, “I’m feeling
great. I could go forever.”
The protest is scheduled to continue throughout this week.
By: Lisa Youn