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Hunger Strike Continues as UC Irvine Deadline Passes

October 29, 1995|MARTIN MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — Five hunger strikers demanding that the University of California restore and expand affirmative action programs remained camped out at UC Irvine on Saturday as UC Irvine officials did nothing to enforce the previous night's deadline for them to leave.

The five hunger strikers, who are taking only liquids in their nearly two-week fast, had signed an agreement with UC Irvine officials to camp in front of the main administration building temporarily. That contract expired at midnight Friday when UC Irvine officials rejected the strikers' plea to stay at the site indefinitely.

"They have given their ultimatum and we are still here," said Angel Cervantes, 23, a Claremont Colleges student who joined four UC Irvine hunger strikers as a gesture of solidarity.

One of the hunger strikers, whose nonviolent protest attracted crowds of more than 300 people Friday but only 30 supporters by Saturday night, apparently may require hospitalization within 48 hours for damage to his internal organs because of the fast, according to university officials who are monitoring the strikers' health.

Neither side would identify the most seriously ailing striker, who has an unspecified medical condition that compounds the effects of fasting, university officials said.

Although the strikers exhibit symptoms of starvation--headaches, stomach pains, declining blood pressure and fatigue--they are listed as "medically stable," according to daily reports from university physicians.

UC Irvine Vice Chancellor Manuel N. Gomez said he was "deeply disappointed the strikers did not honor their agreement," but would not explain why the university did not disperse the students after the deadline passed.

Gomez would not say whether the strikers, who are violating a campus ordinance prohibiting overnight camping, will be arrested.

If arrested, the five hunger strikers say, they would go peaceably and continue their fast in jail.

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