The 1994 Hunger Strike

During the spring of 1994, Stanford University was undergoing budget cuts across the university. With little notice, Cecilia Burciaga, Provost for Chicano Affairs and the highest ranking Latina administrator, was laid off. Cecilia had been an outspoken voice for Chicana/o-Latina/o-Latinx students, and at times very critical toward Stanford administration. Cecilia Burciaga and her husband Anthony "Tony" Burciaga were also the resident fellows at Casa Zapata, Stanford's Chicana/o-Latina/o-Latinx theme house. Cecilia was very highly respected among the Stanford Latina/o/x community.

Later in May 1994, during a Latino Sunday Film Series event held in Memorial Auditorium, several Latino students were subject to racist epithets. A group of student leaders associated with MEChA would go on to lead a hunger strike. Demands included rehiring of Cecilia Burciaga, a ban on grapes (as field workers were disproportionately exposed to pesticides), and the establishment of a community center in East Palo Alto.

For three days, students camped in the main quad in front of Memorial Church, demanding that Stanford Administration acknowledge and address issues facing the Latina/o/x community and strengthen the standing of all minorities at Stanford University.

(Image Credit: Center of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity)

Lubia Sanchez, a frosh, was one of the negotiators. Lubia would sit at the head of the table in
Building 10’s conference room where the President would normally sit. On Friday evening, at
the end of the negotiations, the President gave Lubia a hug. Later in the quarter, Lubia yelled
from the top of building 590, “Hi, Gerhard.” It was like they had known each other for a long

On Saturday, May 7, 1994 the hunger strike came to an end with the signing of the demands.
Condi was not willing to sign but at the end did when Casper signed. Condi at that point tried
shaking Tamara’s mom hand but Tamara told her mom, “no se la des” (“don’t give her your

Frances Morales (Stanford: Our University. El Centro Chicano y Latino: A Pillar of the Community), 2019

Interview with Hunger Strikers

The following is an interview with Hunger Strike leaders conducted three days into the strike.

Report of the Grape Policy Committee

There were several committees formed by the President’s Office to address the demands of the hunger strike. Each committee was led by a Latino faculty member and students were part of these committees. The grape boycott committee was headed by Associate Professor Luis Fraga. When the grape boycott committee finished its work, President Casper invited the Guiding Concilio for a briefing on what the university would do next. The curriculum committee was headed by Professor Ramón Saldívar and investigated existing programs in the country before deciding what was rigorous and innovative for Stanford."

Frances Morales (Stanford: Our University. El Centro Chicano y Latino: A Pillar of the Community), 2019

The Hunger Strike is discussed in detail in Stanford—Our University. El Centro Chicano y Latino—A Pillar of the Community, a history written by former Director of El Centro Chicano y Latino and Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Frances Morales.

Stanford: Our University. El Centro Chicano y Latino: A Pillar of the Community