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Hunger strikers trade off with new participants after nine days

A black, red, white, and green flag wrapped around a tree with two signs at its base which read "demand 2 drop criminal charges" and "demand 3 drop disciplinary charges"
The hunger strike began ten days ago with the goals of getting the University to consider divestment from Israel and to commit to amnesty for student protesters.
Calvin Grover / The Daily Princetonian

The 13 students who have only consumed water since Friday, May 3 have ended their hunger strike, Princeton Israeli Apartheid Divest (PIAD) announced on social media around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 12. Seven other students have since begun hunger strikes in their place.

Organizers have repeatedly cited the strikes as a source of leverage amidst negotiations over demands with the University, which reportedly broke down at the end of last week. 


After a meeting with University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 on Monday, May 6 — a discussion that members of the sit-in said was unproductive — the sit-in’s bargaining team met with administrators on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. At the first meeting on Wednesday, administrators initially seemed willing to negotiate, members of the bargaining team said.

“The administration seems to be responding to the urgency of the hunger strike and also the encampment,” said Jessica Ng, a postdoctoral research associate on the bargaining team, at a town hall on Wednesday.

The same day, one hunger striker was admitted to the hospital, according to information posted on PIAD social media accounts. According to the group’s Instagram, Princeton Medical Center strongly encouraged the admitted hunger striker to “resume drinking and eating immediately.” The after-visit summary noted that failure to eat and drink adequately was “detrimental to [the hunger striker’s] health” and “could result in complications.” 

PIAD noted that the striker “had to break her strike or risk serious health consequences.”

In a letter published in The Daily Princetonian on Sunday, a group of faculty called on the Board of Trustees to intervene and “closely monitor and investigate the inner workings of this administration,” citing the urgency of the hunger strike.

In their own letter to the Board on Wednesday, May 8, the original group of hunger strikers wrote, “We hunger strikers have lost weight and are actively experiencing many symptoms including dizziness, painful hunger pangs, critically low blood pressure, and exhaustion, and we continually face greater potential health risks including seizures and pneumonia.”


Princeton is not the first university to see a pro-Palestinian hunger strike in recent months. In early February, 17 Brown University students participated in an eight-day strike. The students ended their strike on their own accord after President Christina Paxson refused to commit to present a resolution on divestment from companies “associated with human rights abuses in Palestine” to the university’s governing body. 

A hunger strike at McGill University has been ongoing for over 10 weeks. One of the strikers, who was on a strike for 34 days, was later hospitalized. 

“As we begin day 74 of our hunger strike — yes, this is not a typo — we are reminded of the university’s continuous refusal to even engage with our demands for academic boycott and divestment from Israel,” the students of the McGill hunger strike wrote in a press release on May 2. 

The hunger strike at Princeton is still ongoing, but the strikers have continued to remain at the encampment despite intermittent rain and wind. Protesters pitched a tarp over a rope which was suspended between two trees last week; the structure was later removed  at the direction of Public Safety (PSAFE) on Tuesday, May 7. Later that night, PSAFE issued an arrest warning to members of the sit-in after they attempted to reconstruct the shelter. The tarps have since been removed. 

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Miriam Waldvogel is an associate News editor and the investigations editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from Stockton, Calif. and often covers campus activism and University accountability.

Isabella Dail is a News contributor and head editor for The Prospect for the ‘Prince.’

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