Princeton students end hunger strike due to hunger, ‘health concerns’ after 10 days

May 13, 2024 | Political News

On day 10 of their hunger strike, Princeton students decided to give up their protest and grab a bite to eat. In an Instagram post, the 13 students who had been camped out on the New Jersey campus for 10 days, undertaking a hunger strike for Gaza, gave the update that “the first hunger strike wave ended.” On day 9, there had been 13 students hunger striking, but they swapped out on day 10 for 7 alternates. 

“Princeton Gaza Solidarity Encampment Update: Due to health concerns of the 13 strikers who fasted for 9 days,” they wrote, “the first hunger strike wave ended, and the second wave has begun. In the tradition of rotary hunger strikes, Seven new strikers are indefinitely fasting for a free Palestine.” 

However, there is good reason to believe that in this case, indefinitely means 10 days. The graphic they shared reads “we will not rest until divest,” referring to one of their demands, which is for Princeton to divest investment and cultural ties with Israel. 

From the Instagram Princeton Israeli Apartheid Divest. “The campaign calling on Princeton to divest from Israel. No more war profiteering, no more upholding apartheid, Princeton out of Israel now!”

During their 10-day hunger strike, other groups had come and gone to give their support via solidarity fasts. Over the past weekend, a group of professors joined the Gaza campers for a 24-hour fast. They went to the Gaza camp to give their support in the form of video testimony backing the students. In so doing, they said the students were only doing what they had been taught to do, namely, by these educators.

One associate professor said, “the students have simply done what they were told to do,” while a professor in the English department said, “Our students are putting their bodies on the line to try to affect change, and teaching them how to affect change is what we do as educators.”

Five days into their strike, the students were complaining of hunger and claimed to be “all immunocompromised.” 

“We are both cold and hot at the same time,” a student complained, “we are all immunocompromised. And based off the university's meeting yesterday with some of our bargaining team, they would love to continue physically weakening us because they can't stand to say no to unjust murder.” They complained further that the school wasn't doing enough to make sure they were healthy during their self-imposed fast.

Among their demands were “complete amnesty from all criminal and disciplinary charges” for hunger-striking students. Their initial demands were to “Meet with students to discuss their demands for disclosure, divestment and a full academic and cultural boycott of Israel; grant complete amnesty from all criminal and disciplinary charges for the participants of the peaceful protest. Reverse all campus bans and evictions of students.”

“The University and the world must recognize that we refuse to be complicit in genocide, and will take every necessary action to change this reality, our hunger strike, though small in comparison to the enduring suffering of the Palestinian people, symbolizes our unwavering commitment to justice and solidarity.”

The administration of the school appears to have waited them out, and it is unclear what new leverage the smaller group of hunger strikers will have to change the investment strategy of the Ivy League school.