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05/07/94

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Chicano students accept president/provost's statement, end strike

STANFORD -- Four Chicana students ended their three-day fast at midnight Friday, and their fellow protesters left the Stanford University Quad on Saturday morning after accepting a statement by the president and provost promising to study issues raised by the students.

Dr. Ira Friedman, director of the university's Cowell Student Health Center, said the four women students had ended their fast in good health. Friedman had advised and monitored the students on maintaining their health from the beginning of the protest Wednesday morning.

The final statement of President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza was substantively the same as the response they made orally to the students Wednesday afternoon, the first day of the protest, and on paper Thursday. The discussions between then and Friday night were largely spent in clarification of exact meanings and wording.

The statement calls for three committees to examine the issues raised by the Chicano students - a call for a grape boycott on campus, enhancing collaborations with East Palo Alto and a call for a Chicano studies program - with the reports due back to the provost by the end of the fall quarter.

After the group had accepted the statement Friday night, and the fast was ended, the president and provost met with the students on the Quad Saturday morning.

"I know that your strike was importantly about respect - respect that the provost and I always have had for you, even though some of you may have felt otherwise," Casper said. "We do respect you and your sense of commitment. I have no respect for those who, under cover of darkness, shout slurs."

The last was a reference to an incident many believe sparked the protest. At a student movie screening last Sunday night (May 1), the feature film "Mrs. Doubtfire" was preceded by a short film on grapes and pesticides. Some members of the audience made what Casper called "at best stupid, at worst racist" remarks during the short film. Upon learning of the incident, the president immediately said he was appalled and condemned the remarks "in the strongest possible way."

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In his Saturday statement to the students, Casper went on to say that he believed the discussions with the students had been useful.

"We now have a positive basis on which to move forward," he said. "I should like to remind all of us that universities are very fragile institutions - as we have learned in the last few days - because they ultimately are based solely on the power of argument and reason - though clearly, our feelings also play an important role."

Provost Rice, the chief academic and budget officer of the university, said that she was pleased that the students had come to agree that their concerns must be handled through the academic processes of the university.

"It is a fundamental principle of universities that academic programs must come from the faculty, go through the schools and, ultimately, be approved by the academic senate," she said. "And all issues at a university must be dealt with by gathering the best data and facts, and applying reason to them."

In the Friday statement accepted by the students, Casper and Rice said (see accompanying page for full text):

  • Luis Fraga, associate professor of political science and director of the Stanford Center for Chicano Research, will form and head a committee that will assess and, if necessary, recommend changes to the university's present policy on grapes, which leaves it to students in each dining hall to determine whether to serve grapes. The committee will include members from all parts of the university, and will report no later than the end of the fall quarter.
  • The provost will entertain a proposal from the Dean of Humanities and Sciences to consider establishing a Chicano Studies Program. The school also will examine the requests that have been pending concerning Asian American studies. That report is to come forward in time to be considered in the next budget and planning cycle.
  • The university will explore ways to support student initiatives, including fund- raising, to consolidate and better coordinate their service programs in East Palo Alto.
  • Sally Dickson, director of the university's Office for Multicultural Development, will head an effort to examine the university response to the student film incident.

"Stanford, the provost and I remain strongly committed to diversity - in everything from faculty and student recruitment to ensuring good leadership and programs for all students, including minority students," Casper reiterated. "Times of scarce resources always create strains, but we will seek to be creative and sensitive in addressing these issues."

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