By Ed Diokno
It looked something like a scene from 1969 on the San Francisco State University campus with a maelstrom involving student protests, ethnic studies and an Asian American president. The only thing missing – thank goodness – were the jackbooted, baton-wielding SWAT teams.
Last week, an agreement was reached that will strengthen the existence of the College of Ethnic Studies.
In a letter addressed to the students and faculty and “our Ethnic Studies family around the world,” and signed by SFSU President Leslie Wong, the university administration reached an agreement with four students who have been staging a hunger strike for 10 days. The letter agreed to 11 of the 26 demands, including reallocating funding for two full-time tenure track faculty appointments in Africana Studies, reallocating funding for four work-study student positions, working towards departmental status for the Race and Resistance Studies program, and developing a program in Pacific Islander Studies. The agreement will result “in the additional investment of $482,806 in support of advancing the College — in addition to the $250,000 commitment for AY 2016-17 earlier already made by the President.”
“It’s disappointing that it took a hunger strike and that it took 10 days into a hunger strike to get it to these negotiations,” said Sofia Cardena to the Golden Gate Xpress. She is an organizer for the Defend and Advance Ethnic Studies movement, which rallied student support for the college. “Even though we didn’t get everything we wanted, I think we can still call this a victory.”
On day ninth of the hunger strike by four students, one of them had to be hospitalized. The next day, the compromise agreement returning some was announced.