Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hungry Hungry Kiddos

Some students over at UC Berkeley are on a hunger strike as part of that campus' seeming permanent protest culture. They are entering into their second week of refusing food and liquids, so I guess we can't knock them for their dedication. Their intelligence and life choices are another matter: Offer To Meet Does Not End Hunger Strike at UC

As a hunger strike at UC Berkeley entered its second week, university leaders who say they are concerned for the students' health offered an in-person meeting with Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on Wednesday in exchange for an immediate end to the protest.

"It appears to us that they will not end this hunger strike until they meet face-to-face with the chancellor," said campus spokeswoman Claire Holmes.

Despite the school's offer, some 200 protesters - including several hunger strikers - marched to Birgeneau's campus residence Monday evening to demand a meeting right away.

A spokeswoman for Birgeneau offered to set the meeting for today, but the students would not agree to an immediate end to the strike. They said, however, that four strikers who are declining liquids would begin to drink again.

Their demands are an odd grab bag. None are life or death matters, and yet these kids are starving themselves anyway. Maybe they are hoping UC will cave on just one of these so they can start eating again:

The hunger strike began in response to a new Arizona law requiring police in that state to question anyone they suspect is in the country illegally.

Hunger strikers presented the administration with four main demands: that Birgeneau publicly oppose the Arizona law, make the campus a sanctuary for undocumented students and workers, rehire more than two dozen laid-off janitors, and drop disciplinary proceedings against dozens of students who occupied or vandalized buildings last fall to protest rising fees.

Additional demands have since included a commitment to preserve ethnic studies in light of challenges to such courses in Arizona and allowing students to help reform rules on student conduct.

For their part, UC administrators are acting as feckless and powerless as you would expect. Mostly, they have been engaging in fruitless dialog, rather than grabbing these kids and force feeding them. I know, I know. The "kids" are adults and no one wants to violate their rights to starve themselves for political gain.

The kids will not identify themselves, and the school apparently won't either. The linked article has a picture of three strikers, but no names. I assume the kids don't want to be identified for fear their parents will rush in and stop this madness. And, I assume UC hasn't informed the parents, too. This truly is el loco de parentis.

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