Several activists who have been pushing for the creation of a Chicano studies department at UCLA began a hunger strike on campus Tuesday.
Six students and one professor, who began their protest fast near the administration building, vowed to stay until they extract a promise to create the department.
"This is not a symbolic act, this is not a political statement. Either we get a department of Chicano studies or you will see us die before your eyes," said Jorge Mancillas, a professor at the university's medical school.
The seven protesters said they will not leave their tents, pitched hastily early Tuesday. They said they will be joined by another 30 students who will fast in two-day shifts.
UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young said in a statement that "the university will do everything possible to insure the health, welfare and safety of the protesters by providing extra security and medical attention as necessary."