After 12 days, a hunger strike that began April 26 against the consolidation of the gender studies, ethnic studies and African-American studies departments ended without the campus administration meeting any of the strikers’ demands. The strike should have taken less contentious forms in order to garner more public support.
Those protesting the consolidation should study the example set by the five athletics teams that faced termination but overcame the proposed cuts through extensive outreach programs and fundraising efforts. The athletics teams realized the difficulty of the situation and proactively took measures to ensure that they would still be on campus in the years to come.
Although education is slightly different, the underlying principle remains the same: supporters of the departments should reach out to academics, alumni of the three departments and education advocates in general.
Such outreach has proven to be an effective way to raise funds, bring attention to an issue and bolster community support for a cause. These methods are not defined by contention but by cooperative engagement aimed at finding solutions.
By immediately offering to meet with the strikers, the administrators demonstrated that they can act in good faith when dealing with protesters. We commend them for that.
But perhaps a hunger strike would not have been necessary to begin with if lines of communication were more open throughout the entire consolidation process.
Students deserve to know why budgets are being cut and departments are being consolidated, not simply that they are going to happen. They also deserve to have a voice in the cuts process.
The administration set the correct tone in response to this hunger strike, and we hope it will continue.
As the campus faces austerity measures, students must remember to be reasonable in their demands, and the administration should remain transparent in its budgetary process to avoid future demonstrations like the hunger strike.