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Princeton anti-Israel hunger strikers: University ‘forced’ us to do this

If Princeton ‘wants to let us starve, then they’re welcome to do that’

Seventeen Princeton students began a hunger strike last Friday until the university agreed to meet with them to discuss divestment from Israel and the dropping of charges against students who had occupied a campus building.

According to The Daily Princetonian, student Sameer Riaz said he believed he and his comrades “were forced into” their hunger strike by school officials.

Areeq Hasan, another hunger striker, said all those participating are “very well-supported” — unlike “political prisoners who are in Palestine.”

David Chmielewski said the strikers’ demands were “not that intense” as activists only wanted a meeting (along with the dismissal of criminal/disciplinary charges against the aforementioned occupiers).

He added if Princeton “want[s] to let us starve, then they’re welcome to do that.”

Chmielewski (pictured) also claimed the actions of anti-Israel activists weren’t responsible for the “unsafe [campus] environment” but those of the university — by not agreeing to hunger strikers’ demands, not anti-Israel activists taking over buildings, etc.

“We also have the simple fact that a lot of students on campus feel that the administration’s actions limit their ability to have free expression, which in turn limits their ability to build community, to practice their religion,” Chmielewski said, and pointed to an arrested Muslim student who was “forced to pray” while in handcuffs.

Some of the strikers toughed out the “dropping temperatures and intermittent rain” over the weekend. However, when the rain ceased, campus police told them to remove any tarps as they violate school policy … leading hunger striker Simón Gotera and others to deal with wind blowing water on them off of nearby trees.

“It was very hard to rest in any way,” Gotera said.

The hunger strikers and other activists got their big wish Monday as they met with President Christopher Eisgruber and several university deans. But the only thing to which the administrators would agree was the “possibility of strengthened academic ties with Palestinian institutions and the establishment of an affinity space for Palestinian students.”

Chmielewski said the activists felt “deeply disrespected” and noted the hunger strike would move forward.

Another activist complained “We simply presented these demands and Eisgruber gave us nothing,” while another said “All [Eisgruber] could talk about was process.”

Yet another referred to the meeting as “a scrap of nothing that we refuse to accept.”

Other Ivies that dealt (or are dealing) with hunger strikers include Yale, Dartmouth, and Brown.

MORE: Hunger strikes by Ivy League activists somehow fail to accomplish anything

IMAGES: Shutterstock.com; David Chmielewski/Linkedin

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.