Pennsylvania college professor ends hunger strike over tenure denial

A college professor says he has ended a hunger strike he began last week over the denial of his application for tenure.

Lafayette College professor Juan Rojo said on his Facebook page that halting the strike was “an agonizing decision, more so than the decision to start.” He said he decided to wait until Monday to eat again after informing the college’s board and community of his decision.

“I wanted to make sure people understood that stopping was a decision consciously made rather than me simply giving up,” he said. “It is meant to be an act of good faith.”

Rojo had said on Aug. 30 that he planned to consume only water and sports drinks until the tenure issue was resolved but planned to continue teaching through the semester.

Rojo has taught Spanish language and literature at the college since 2008. A committee voted in December to recommend him for tenure, but college president Alison Byerly denied his tenure, saying he didn’t exhibit “distinctive” teaching abilities.

The college said it hoped Rojo would express his views in a way that didn’t endanger his health.

“We followed our procedures as laid out in the college’s faculty handbook,” it said in a statement. “We respect professor Rojo’s right to disagree with the decision.”

Rojo thanked supporters, saying the faculty and staff were “mobilized in ways I have not seen before.” He also said he had received “a short note of concern” from the board on Sunday.

“I am not sure if and when they will engage this issue, but I hope they do so with an open mind,” he said.

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