Nearly 200 students and faculty gathered in the quad at 12:30 p.m. Monday for a press conference surrounding the four students who began a hunger strike last week in protest of what they consider a dismissal of their demands to defend and advance the College of Ethnic Studies.
In attendance were actor and SF State alumnus Danny Glover, San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, in addition to several community activists and public officials who expressed solidarity with the strikers.
“It is a bit shameful that eight days into the strike we have not been able to come to a resolution on their just demands,” Chair of Latina and Latino Studies Alejandro Murguia said to the crowd. “So we are hoping that finally the president and the provost and his cabinet will listen and pay attention to these very astute demands and concerns.”
Vice President of the Black Student Union Hanna Wodaje also called out the administration.
“We believe this to be a violation of our civil rights, the CSU moratorium on Ethnic Studies, and furthermore a violation of the mission of the University,” Wodaje said. “We cannot comprehend the logic that has led to the decision by our administration but we can see the implications, a University that does not adequately represent its student body and its faculty.”
Mar said San Francisco Supervisors David Campos, John Avalos and Jane Kim support the “courageous” strikers and their “just” list of demands.
“I worry about the health of the strikers here and the strikers that are in front of City Hall,” Mar said. “But I also know that the College of Ethnic Studies has been starved. It’s a systemic starvation.”
President Leslie E. Wong addressed a small room of press at 1:45 p.m. in the Administration Building during the open mic segment of the larger press conference held outside, which ran longer than its noted end-time of 1:30 p.m.
“I think a very deliberate and formal process where we come to the table is needed at this time,” Wong said. “I think that we can earnestly and seriously tackle some important issues, the least of which is funding. I think there’s an issue of trust, I think there are issues of our relationship between the administration and the rest of the community. And personally, those are very important to me.”
The strikers continued their protest off-campus over the weekend, but returned to their campsite today.
“There’s a lot of love out there, but sometimes you need some time to yourself,” 19-year-old striker Sachiel Rosen told Golden Gate Xpress. “It’s good to see a lot of people out here. This was the point – we wanted to spread the word … to connect the campus community.”