Hunger striker rushed to hospital, still on strike

Hunger striker Julia Retzlaff, 19, was rushed to Clínica Martín-Baró Monday around 10:30 p.m.

Doctors at Clínica Martín-Baró sent Retzlaff to Kaiser Permanente, where she received an IV. After three hours of care, Retzlaff returned to the hunger strike campsite around 2 a.m. Tuesday to sleep in a tent.

“I’m still on strike,” Retzlaff said, noting she has not eaten and will continue to consume only liquids for the duration of the indefinite strike. “I feel better but my chest is still kind of in pain right now. I think when my body’s under stress it hurts more.”

Four students, who call themselves Third World Liberation Front 2016 began a hunger strike Monday, May 2, calling for administration acknowledgement of a list of 10 demands regarding increased funding to the College of Ethnic Studies. They said they will continue until a resolution has been reached with President Leslie E. Wong and SF State administration.

Retzlaff’s trip to the hospital occurred hours after a hunger strike press conference in the quad, May 9, drawing nearly 200 supporters of the College of Ethnic Studies. At the conference, faculty announced the initiation of “a rolling faculty fast in conjunction with the students on hunger strike.” Speakers included actor and alumnus Danny Glover and San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, among others.

“I was so moved by what is happening here and what has happened historically to this program,” Glover said to the crowd. “There’s an attempt to undermine this program, an attempt to undermine and de-radicalize universities around the country. … We’re here to change the narrative.”

College of Ethnic Studies faculty and SF State’s head nurse accompanied Retzlaff to Clínica Martín-Baró, a free clinic in the mission run by UCSF and SF State students and faculty where of each the strikers received a check-up over the weekend, according to Ethnic Studies lecturer Larry Salomon.

“They have been really fantastic,” Retzlaff said.

She noted the other strikers – Hassani Bell, 18, Sachiel Rosen, 19, and Ahkeel Mestayer, 20 – are feeling okay.

“I’m willing to put my body on the line and I hope President Wong understands and hurries in the negotiations because we are on a timeline,” Retzlaff said. “Every day our bodies get more exhausted and worse, so it’s up to him.”

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