Chancellor Birgeneau and Vice Chancellor Breslauer have made it clear that student safety and health is not a priority to them. On Monday, May 10th, dozens of UCPD and Alameda County Police officers were deployed at California Hall and refused to allow strikers access to water when they needed it as well as the ability to pitch a tent in order to keep themselves out of the rain.
Furthermore, despite presenting the chancellor with a reasonable compromise guaranteeing that dry strikers would start drinking water Monday night and guaranteeing that the hunger strike would end Tuesday in exchange for a meeting, the chancellor refused to accept any compromise to put this matter to rest. Chancellor Birgeneau continues to jeopardize the health of student strikers and despite eight days without food, a faculty petition in support of immediate negotiations, and a day of mass sit-ins at California Hall and University House, he still refuses to negotiate in good faith. Throughout this entire strike, peaceful student protesters have shown a willingness to compromise to bring this situation to an end while Chancellor Birgeneau, Vice Chancellor Breslauer and their staffers have expressed a failure to compromise, to speak respectfully to our negotiators, and understand the struggles of the students on strike.
Birgeneau’s handling of this situation serves as an example of the kind of racist and classist logics that university administrators use to marginalize, control and instill terror in students workers, and faculty on our campus. The fact that students and workers who find themselves terrorized in the wake of heartless budget cuts, hate crimes at UC campuses across the state and racist legislation, can’t get a simple meeting with the Chancellor of our university to make concrete reforms to make our campus more inclusive is an outrage. But this is why we are engaged in this struggle. We understand that Arizona’s racism is alive and well here on our campus. Birgeneau’s treatment of our solidarity coalition underscores the systemic marginalization that the hunger strikers are trying to end at Cal and in our country. Birgeneau’s actions not only validate the need for direct action, they strengthen our resolve.
So, the strike continues. There are now eight dry strikers and a growing list of solidarity hunger strikers. We call on supporters to join in solidarity with a hunger strike tomorrow. There is a rally tomorrow at 3:30PM. We continue to request immediate negotiations with Birgeneau and Breslauer and an immediate and peaceful end to the strike. We hope that Birgeneau and Breslauer can find it within their conscience to do the right thing and compromise, negotiate, and understand the struggles of the student strikers.