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U. South Florida students to ‘starve themselves’ unless school yields to anti-Israel demands

‘I’m hunger striking because the [university] is forcing me to’

Eighteen University of South Florida students have pledged to “starve themselves” unless school officials give in to their anti-Israel demands, which include divestment from companies doing business with the country.

The Tampa Bay Times reports the activists got into a “tense exchange” with USF Board of Trustees Chairperson Will Weatherford after he explained to them the school’s investments are “managed based on performance to produce benefits for the entire university regardless of political viewpoints or disagreements.”

That was a “flimsy excuse” according to student Alina Atiq, who accused USF of being “complicit” in the “atrocities” happening in northern Gaza.

Some of the activists asked the board why they condemned Hamas after its October 7 assault against Israel, but haven’t “expressed the same degree of concern for [subsequent] Palestinian deaths.”

Senior Will Mleczko told Weatherford that he and his fellow activists will “starve [them]selves” and ultimately die if need be to “reaffirm the belief and the truth that there is blood on [his] hands.” (Mleczko later backtracked on the “dying” part.)

Psychology and gender studies major Isha Modha accused UCF of “censorship” for issuing a cease-and-desist letter to the strike’s initial organizers, and then contacting the parents of those poised to participate in the strike.

MORE: Dartmouth students join Ivy League peers in anti-Israel hunger strike

According to Libs of TikTok, the hunger strikers’ demands include:

— USF President Rhea Law “immediately” must call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and for humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

— USF must make its investment portfolio from the last ten years “open to the public.”

— USF must create a “Student Oversight Committee” by this fall which will have input on future university investments.

— The school must “immediately” divest from the companies Hewlett Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and others.

In a video posted by @thestustustudio, hunger striker “Khadija” says the university “has forced us to starve ourselves” and claims she and her fellow activists are subsisting on “fish oil and water.”

“I feel malnourished and fatigued,” Khadija says. “My body feels weak. How can we believe USF cares for the student body when they make it abundantly clear they’d rather watch us starve than even meet one of our demands?”

In another video, hunger striker Alina says she’s going without food “because the University of South Florida is forcing [her] to.”

The Crow’s Nest reports one of the hunger strikers bowed out a mere 30 hours into the fast due to the “inability to sleep, a drop in cognitive function and frequent vomiting.”

The USF activists said they drew their inspiration from the hunger strikers of Brown University’s Divest Coalition.

MORE: ‘Undocumented’ U. California students to hunger strike for ‘equal employment opportunities’

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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.