IRVINE : Hunger Strikers Take Concerns to Regents

In their third day of a liquid-only fast, two of the five students went to San Francisco on Wednesday to press the UC Board of Regents to expand affirmative-action programs.

The hunger strikers, Cesar Cruz of UC Irvine and Angel Cervantes of Claremont Colleges, were among two dozen students who disrupted the regents' meeting for about 15 minutes.

"If you can live with yourselves with five hunger strikers' dying, so be it," Cruz told the regents.

The board is considering proposals aimed at halting the demonstrations that have dogged its meetings since the body voted in July to abolish affirmative action at the 162,000-student university system.

Cruz and Cervantes, who joined UCI's protest as a gesture of solidarity, are expected to return to their encampment across from UCI's administration building this morning.

In Irvine, the remaining three hunger strikers reaffirmed their demands that the regents strengthen affirmative action and substantially reduce student fees. Their noon address, delivered over a loudspeaker, attracted less than a dozen students.

"I'm willing to give my life so my younger brothers and sisters will have a voice in the future," said Manuel Galvan, 21, a hunger striker and biology major at UCI.

Before the students began their fast at midnight Tuesday, the five promised UCI officials they would end the strike by Oct. 27. Now, the strikers are saying they will go "all the way" if the regents don't meet their demands.

UCI Chancellor Laurel L. Wilkening has said she supports the students' right to protest but won't allow them to seriously endanger their lives.

The five protesters, all Latinos, said their spirits are high but the lack of food has sapped them of much of their energy.

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