Stanford Students Fast For Minority Awareness

Scores of Stanford University students put down their books Wednesday and picked up picket signs to protest what they said was mistreatment of Mexican-American minority students and faculty.

According to the Stanford Daily, a student newspaper, 42 Stanford students committed themselves to a 24-hour fast and four students have said they will continue fasting until their list of grievances is addressed.

In addition, about 50 protesters clad in black shirts and red armbands marched around the campus quadrangle carrying signs reading, "Strike: Chicano Studies Now!"

The protests were sparked when the university announced the release of one of its top Chicano administrators as part of school-wide cutbacks.

The students are demanding not only the rehiring of the administrator, Cecilia Burciaga, who was associate dean, but also:


* the building of a community center in East Palo Alto--a low-income, high-crime area a few miles from campus;

* the banning of grapes on campus in response to accusations that migrant workers are mistreated by California grape farmers; and

* the immediate upgrading of the Chicano Fellows Program to a Chicano Studies major.

University President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoled Rice issued a statement yesterday responding to the latter three demands. It established committees to study each issue.

But the officials said they would not consider rehiring Burciaga because there are simply no high-level posts available.

"Stanford, the provost and I remain strongly committed to diversity," thestatement says. "Times of scarce resources alwayscreate strains, but we will seek to be creativeand sensitive in addressing these issues."

But Francisca James Hernandez, a graduatestudent and spokesperson for the protectors, toldthe Stanford Daily, "I hear a lot of words andthen I see actions that are entirely contrary".

Hernandez said the cutting of Burciaga'sposition would result in more difficult minorityfaculty recruitment.

But not all students support the protesters'position. Several told The Crimson yesterday thatthey see the necessity of cutbacks and do notbelieve Burciaga's layoff was a result of ethnicbias.

"I think this is a little foolish," saidJonathon M. Marek, a junior. "Everything theadministration said makes sense. A lot of peopleare being cut right now."

"If we had the money we could have a ChicanoStudies program and we wouldn't have this problemany way, so in a way [Casper] is kind of workingon the problem," Marek added. "I think moststudents feel that way, but not the vocal ones."

James C. Ho, another Stanford junior, agreed.

"The administration does seem to take theprotesters seriously despite the fact that theyharangue the administration and call themconservative and hint that they are racist," Hosaid. "This is one of the most minority-filledadministrations in the country, and a lot ofpeople consider the charges pretty ridiculous.