They've been warning administrators since last Friday that they'd do it, and the moment of truth has arrived:
Four brave students from Cal State Northridge began their hunger strike against rising tuition yesterday, along with eight more CSU students scattered across five other campuses within the system.
They will ingest only vegetable juice until the university agrees to meet the following demands:
1. A 5 year moratorium on student fee hikes.
2. The elimination of all 23 campus presidents housing and car allowances.
3. Administrative and executive salaries be reversed to 1999 levels.
4. The extension of freedom of speech areas to include entire campuses.
Knowing CSU administrators, who have raised tuition over 318 percent in the last decade (to higher highs than Harvard, all things considered), meanwhile raising their own salaries on the go-to that they must stay "competitive," the strikers could end up looking like a pack of first-world Ghandis before anything starts to change.
The four young students on strike at CSUN -- Grace Castaneda, Sarah Garcia, Matthew Delgado and Raiza Arias, according to the campus newspaper -- told the Daily Breeze that they were already starting to feel sick and weak by Wednesday evening.
CSUN has always been at the forefront of higher-education activism among the CSUs. (Also, infamous library freakouts.) But this, supplemented by the faculty's union's announcement yesterday that they'll be staging the largest teacher walkout in American history, is the most extreme measure we can remember students having taken against recent budget cuts.
Below, watch another CSUN rabble-rouser who's supporting the strike stand up to a couple campus motorcycle cops who apparently told him to simmer down:
Kind of like the CSUN library freakout, only with a cause worth shouting about.
So how far will these kids go until they cave? Although the hunger strike is supposed to end next Wednesday, a week after it started, Delgado tells the Breeze that he's "willing to starve until our demands are met."
That could be trouble for administrators, who are perfectly capable of raiding students' bank accounts, but less prepared to face a mob of angry parents wondering why their children are in the ICU instead of class.
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Update: Erik Fallis, CSU spokesman, says that individual "campuses are monitoring the situation, and are prepared to render students medical assistance if needed."
You mean, like, force them to eat? "What the form of that assistance is, and whether students accept that -- those will all be things that will develop as this thing goes on," says Fallis.
He also puts the faculty union on the spot, saying that union employees who "advise and support" Students for Quality Education, the group that's staging the hunger strike, "should advise students to voice their concerns in a way that doesn't pose them any harm."