With contract negotiations still underway between California State University (CSU) management and the California Faculty Association (CFA), a handful of students at six of the university system’s campuses are continuing their hunger strikes, writes Kevin Jersey in the LA Valley Star.

But there’s a catch.

These six students are members of the Students for Quality Education and are believed to be paid interns for the CFA. The group is sticking to consuming only water and vegetable juice to protest for a five-year moratorium on tuition hikes and to reverse the pay increase of CSU management, as well as a salary increase for faculty.

They insist they won’t stop until their demands are met, according to Jersey. Has the CFA gone too far? Yes.

Because this group of students is allegedly comprised of paid interns with the CFA, it doesn’t show an objective student position on the issue of the faculty strikes. CFA officials are insisting that the students back down from the hunger strike for their own personal integrity, according to the article, but they seem to be sticking to their vow.

While I support the CFA in their decision to go forth with a two-day rolling strike this fall to fight for a better union contract, I cannot condone the union paying students to strike on their behalf – whether it be an extreme hunger strike, or just picketing across campuses.

The union is seemingly manipulating these students, and while CFA officials claim they did not approve of a hunger strike, paying a group of people to take a stand is artificial and eliminates any power the strike has.

This choice is ultimately up to these students involved, but I believe an even bigger statement would be to rally larger groups of students across all 23 campuses to get involved and fight cohesively for what THEY want.

Stephanie Minaisan is a fellow with New America Media's Youth Education Fellowship. The fellowship is a six-month long program for youth reporters aged 16-24 on education reporting. It is sponsored by the California Education Policy Fund.