Strikers camp out
Written by Bwog Staff
At noon today, the Solidarity hunger strikers were in high spirits, hanging out and joking with their friends on the Steps like any other carefree students on a sunny autumn day.
But by six that evening, darkness and a chill had set in. The five, still surrounded by friends and supporters, were hunkered down like arctic birds, their bodies wrapped up in warm clothes and blankets and pressed against the side of a Low fountain.
Some had been going to class regularly– striker Aretha Choi, BC’10, claimed to have had “a normal day”– but all had begun their diet of “diluted Gatorade, enough for electrolytes,” one auxiliary student said. She added that the five–down one member from last night– had been checked out by medical personnel. Still, they’re keeping a bathroom scale on hand to make sure none fall below critical body weight.
Those who have walked by Butler in the past three hours would have noticed their makeshift village where they plan to spend the next week or so, if they can make it. Festooned with banners and full of cushions and survival supplies–we noticed a few jumbo rolls of toilet paper–the three-ring tent complex has seen a steady flow of visitors and curious passersby.
Each night of the strike, supporters led by Sam Rennebohm, GS’09, plan to convene for a candle-light vigil. Tonight at 9 pm, nearly 70 pro-strike students met at the sundial to listen to the protesters deliver personal statements and supporters like Peter Gallotta, CC’09, president of the CQA, give statements of support. “Close your mouth against food… Be empty of worrying,” he read, quoting the poet Rumi.
The assembled lit their candles in a circle and proceeded to the Steps, where they lined up like recent graduates from activist high school. Andrew Lyubarsky, CC’09, said he and several other students, including College senior Christien Tompkins and juniors Desiree Carver-Thomas and Ryan Fukumori, have formed an ad hoc “negotiating committee” to speak with administrators. Fukumori noted that he spoke with Vice President for Arts and Sciences Nick Dirks that day, and that Dirks had agreed to a “cluster hire” of three tenured senior faculty in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.
But, he added, Dirks has been planning on doing the hires for some time, since at least the University’s publication of its inquiry into racial hiring practices last May. “The impact of the strike itself prompted the meeting [with Dirks today], but he had been working on CSER before that,” he said. Muslim Students Association president Adil Ahmed, also a College junior, said he was aware that some of the demands, like increased power for Ethnic Studies and funding for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, have been in the works for a while and look like they will be met soon. Fukumori acknowledged that the administration was somewhat “receptive” in contrast to past incidents, like the 1996 hunger strike, in which negotiations had not started until the ninth or tenth day of deprivation.
– KER & LBD
Tags: hunger strike