The hunger strikers released a set of 4 demands around 2:30 pm today, including the following:
- Reinstate the FTE staff positions in Ethnic Studies cut by organizational simplification under Operational Excellence
- End the current process of Operational Excellence
- Publicly support the Legislative Resolution ACR 34, co-authored by Assemblymembers Ricardo Lara and Luis A. Alejo in support of Ethnic Studies in California
- Publicly acknowledge the unfulfilled promise of the creation of a Third World College at UC Berkeley
Vice Chancellor Harry LeGrande — the guy in the ridiculous hat who tried to speak to protesters from the second floor of Wheeler on 3/3 but was booed — spoke to the strikers a few times and offered to meet with a few of them inside California Hall, but they refused. The offer remains on the table. Meanwhile, around 5 pm today, Vice Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri and Dean of the Social Sciences Division Carla Hesse sent a written response to the strikers. We are making it available below.
Suffice it to say that this letter is filled with the same sort of gutter tripe we’ve seen from these Vice Chancellors — how many of them are there? — again and again. An unqualifiably economic issue — the imposition of austerity measures (“Operational Excellence”) — is rendered a matter of values in the most condescending sense of that word. “We understand that you do not agree with the reasoning behind some of these reductions,” they write, “and we are happy to have further informed discussions about the process and rationale.” And here’s the kicker: “Our hope is to understand one another better, given that we have the same ultimate goals for equity and inclusion.” Ah, diversity. Just invoke the word — who could possibly be against it after all? — and we’re all allies in this fight against…against whom? Seriously. Who is not for “equity and inclusion”? Consolidating Ethnic Studies, 280 layoffs, impending fee hikes — these are objectively opposed to “equity and inclusion.”
We stand in solidarity with the hunger strikers against the cuts to Ethnic Studies and more broadly against the austerity measures being imposed on our campus. We stand with them against the thinly veiled threat issued at the end of Basri and Hesse’s disgusting letter:
In the meantime, you are able to exercise free speech and protest, but are also bound by the campus rules on time, place, and manner (http://police.berkeley.edu/about_UCPD/news/news_101006.html). These rules preclude overnight lodging or camping.
Shameless, these administrator are. This is how they deal with students of color on this campus? By threatening to have them arrested if they nonviolently remain — merely remaining — in front of a building, not even blocking the thing? But we can’t say we’re surprised given this administration’s recent history, consistently unleashing so many Bay Area PDs on nonviolent students that we’ve become accustomed to riot squads in our classrooms.
Good looks to our allies from the Homies Empowerment Program who came out in support. They need all the support they can get. Be sure to stop by tomorrow and show them some love.