USF hunger strike ends after 17 days

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USF Students engaging in a sit-in protest by the university seal in the Marshall Center. By: Josh Holton (03/18/24)

Leaders of the hunger strike at the University of South Florida Tampa campus told members to abandon the hunger strike after 17 days (April 3, 2024). Students pushed divestment from companies that support the Israeli military.

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Starvation hospitalized multiple students in the days leading up to the decision. The group said doctors told the strikers they were risking organ failure a couple of days before the strike ended.

“While I was hunger striking my BMI was like on the brink of, like, organ failure. And I unfortunately did have to drop the strike,” says protestor Alina Atiq. “But a lot of students, a lot of hunger strikers were so determined to that they just refused. They just refused to drop it until we were like: ‘okay, we need to change direction.'”

USF provided WMNF with a statement on the end of the hunger strike. When questioned about divestment, the school pointed to Florida Statute 1010.04 and HB 3 throughout the hunger strike.

“USF’s highest priority is the health and safety of our students. From the time the university first learned of a possible hunger strike, we encouraged participants to consider an alternative form of protest that does not put their safety at risk.

USF’s investments are guided by our mission, fiduciary responsibilities and state and federal laws. The university does not select individual stocks or companies for investment.”

Atiq felt the institution’s actions betrayed their assertions of care.

“It was like, if you actually cared about us, we already made it clear to you that the only way that hunger strike will end is if you can see toward demand, and you’re not even trying to make that happen. You’re not even trying to talk to the administration, like higher-ups, and say, ‘Hey, we need to concede to these demands as soon as possible or else these students are going to die.'”

With the hunger strike dissolved, the group changed its name to USF Divest Coalition. They continue their charge for the withdrawal of funding from companies that support Israel.

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