SAN FRANCISCO – A day after San Francisco State University administration reached a deal on ethnic studies funding students had more to celebrate at the annual “Producing our Power” show that commemorates Asian-American studies.
With the support of ethnic studies programs across the U.S. four students launched a 10-day hunger strike alleging that the university administration was trying to dismantle the College of Ethnic Studies by cutting its funding.
One student was hospitalized on day nine of the strike but was treated and released only to return to the protest.
On Wednesday, university president Les Wong and a group representing the hunger strikers reached an agreement that includes $482,806 in additional investments, along with the $250,000 commitment for the academic year 2016-17 and two full-time tenure track faculty positions in Africana studies.
Dr. Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, a professor at SFSU, said, “Luckily the negotiations turned out positive and the student’s demands are going to be met so this is an exciting moment for us because we know ethnic studies is going to exist and the fight was worth it.”
Jason Galinato Agpao, a graduate student in ethnic studies at SFSU, adds, “With the hunger strikers I believe any type of win in terms of getting funding or just getting the knowledge of what ethnic studies is important.”
Andrew Kalt, an instructional aide for ethnic studies, said, “The university wasn’t meant for people of color so for people of color to be in the university setting is living breathing history they are making history just by existing and going to class whether they realize it or not.”
SFSU Fil-am teachers say ethnic studies is essential for students’ self-determination and self-identity.
“In the world that we live in they don’t understand why we need to know about ourselves but for us who are marginalized out of the history books a lot of my students have expressed this through their poetry it’s almost like they’re hungry for it hence the hunger strike,” said SFSU lecturer Dr. Arlene Daus-Magbual. “They’re starving…for this history, this knowledge and if they don’t get it they’re going to fight for it.”
And while terms were met, not all were satisfied that it took a hunger strike to push for negotiations.
“I’m still disappoint that it didn’t happen sooner that it didn’t happen on day one,” said SFSU lecturer Irene Faye Duller. “We have expectations and standards for the administration to represent the students that we invested in and they invested in us and it just took a little too long.”
The administration has pledged to not take any disciplinary action against any students, faculty or staff who participated in the protest.