Flashback Friday: editorial on the hunger strike of 1994

May 23, 2014, 2:20 a.m.

The Daily published many articles regarding the hunger strike in 1994. Below is an editorial that appeared on Monday, May 9, 1994, after the events concluded.

A delicate situation

University must stick to agreement made, try to restore trust and respect

The tents have been dismantled. The Quad has been cleared. The fasters have eaten. What is left now is one piece of paper that carries the weight of all these events of the past few days and the enormous frustrations that prompted them.

And while it is fortunate that the Chicano community’s hunger strike in the Quad ended quickly and safely, their struggle now requires vigorous follow-through by both parties to ensure that the victory they celebrated this weekend is a lasting one.

After members of the Chicano community endured three days of hunger and rain, the struggle has hardly begun — for both the protesters and those protested against.

What the protest in the Quad won was an agreement by the administration to form three committees to investigate the strikers’ demands.

The demands included an offer of a high-level position for Assoc. Vice Provost for Student Affairs Cecilia Burciaga, who was recently laid off due to budget cuts; the establishment of a community center in East Palo Alto; a campus-wide ban on grapes; and the development of a Chicano studies program.

Committees will be formed to examine the feasibility of the latter three demands. On the first demand, the administration offered a formal statement acknowledging Burciaga’s contributions to the community, but no job or apology for the layoff.

But the written statement signed by University President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza Rice contains few of the concrete details that were discussed, unlike at other schools which are having similar strikes, and essentially asks for a leap of faith, which students apparently took when they ended the strike.

Whether the leap of faith was justified remains to be seen.

For this reason, it is crucial for students and faculty who supported the protest to continue showing their support for the demands until they are more clearly within reach, because while the most generous concessions — a Chicano studies program by 1995 and a community center in East Palo Alto — were discussed, they were not documented in specific details on paper.

Administrators, for their part, must realize that the situation is still delicate. It will take a long series of positive steps to build a comfortable relationship of mutual trust and respect.

Though the vaguely worded document may not hold them accountable to the specifics discussed in the negotiations, the administration must realize that developing this trust and respect largely rests on their following through on these specifics. Straying too far from what’s not on paper could be as detrimental to the relationship as simply reneging on a part of the written document.

After all, this is much of what the strike was about — trust and respect, or the perceived lack thereof. Committees to examine the issue of grapes and the others could likely have been formed through different channels, though perhaps not as rapidly. The strike, however, was also a way to mobilize the community, express deeply rooted frustrations and point out the urgency of the situation in a way that face-to-face board room meetings probably could not.

And though there may not be a hunger strike to rally around or respond to any more, both parties need to understand that their individual efforts must continue as convincingly as ever. Because beyond the rhetoric of desperate situations must lie actions that will endure.


Compiled by Andrew Vogeley

Andrew Vogeley ‘17 served as President and Editor-in-Chief of Volume 249. He is a senior majoring in political science and hails from the great state of Texas (and he’ll be sure to let you know it). Outside of The Daily, Andrew is President of RUF, a Christian fellowship group. To contact Andrew, email him at avogeley ‘at’ stanford.edu

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