Gandhi went on hunger strikes in an attempt to end violent conflict and to protest India’s caste system inequalities. Students in China’s Tianenmen Square conducted hunger strikes to protest big-government oppression and to advance democratic reforms.
Now, a Pennsylvania professor will use the same iconic protest tactic at Lafayette College. What happened, you might ask?
He didn’t get tenure.
A Pennsylvania college professor announced Tuesday that he’s going on a hunger strike over the denial of his application for tenure. Juan Rojo made his plan known during a faculty meeting a Lafayette College in Easton. He said he expects to continue teaching through the rest of the semester, but the strike wouldn’t be a topic of discussion in class. He only plans to consume water and sports drinks until his issue is resolved.
“I have long ago come to terms with the notion that life is not fair. This process, however, is not about fairness. It is about right and wrong. It’s about what is just and what role we as faculty play in our own governance,” Rojo said in his statement to the faculty, according to Lehigh Valley Live. “I am fully aware that this course of action may well limit other academic employment opportunities for me,” he added. “But I cannot stand here and accept this decision that is contrary to the principles of self-governance on which this college and this faculty are founded.”
Rojo has taught Spanish language and literature at the college since 2008. A committee voted to recommend Rojo for tenure in December, but college President Alison Byerly denied his tenure, saying he didn’t exhibit “distinctive” teaching abilities.
This sounds like a classic toddler temper tantrum: “You didn’t make chicken nuggets for dinner, even though you knew I really really wanted them, so I am not going to eat any broccoli!”
It sounds like Professor Rojo needs a reality check. In the real world, people have to work hard every year to keep their jobs. When you don’t get the promotion or the recognition you want, you work harder. You don’t collapse onto the ground, kicking and swinging your fists until a grownup meets your demands.
Rojo’s response to the rejection is proof that Lafayette College made the right call to withhold tenure in the first place. The school should ignore this professor, and use the academic year to find a suitable replacement.