On May 14, 1990, four undergraduate students started a six-day hunger strike on the steps of Mrak Hall for social and academic justice at UC Davis.

Protest Sparks 25-Year Legacy

by | Nov 1, 2015 | Culture, Fall 2015, On Campus

A month before the end of spring quarter, the Cross Cultural Center celebrated its 25th anniversary, dating back not to the opening but to the May 1990 hunger strike that precipitated the center’s development.

The strikers and their allies demanded social and academic justice for students from historically underrepresented communities in higher education and negotiated a number of agreements with the administration — including one to establish a multicultural center. It opened in the fall of 1992.

Abire Sabbagh

Second-year Abire Sabbagh works in the UC Davis Cross Cultural Center, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in May.

Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

“Although there is a lot of attention placed on the four students who fasted … there were many more students who supported us,” said Andrea Gaytan ’92, who returned to campus in 2009 to work at the CCC. She said she’s most grateful to “those students and staff who championed the CCC from the time the doors opened, until today.”

Abire Sabbagh, a student who is in her second year on the CCC staff, said the activism of the past inspires her. “They operated out of a place of solidarity, which is something we continue to embody as a core value,” said Sabbagh, a fourth-year double major in international relations and Middle Eastern and South Asian studies.

“We’re bringing together students, faculty and staff from many different communities to learn, grow and advocate with one another.”