Professor ends hunger strike over tenure fight

A college professor is on a hunger strike.

A Pennsylvania college professor has ended a nearly week-long hunger strike over the denial of his application for tenure.

Juan Rojo is a Spanish professor at 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 planned to consume water and sports drinks until his issue is resolved but announced on his Facebook page that he ended the hunger strike.

“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 when he started it last week.

"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."

Two committees voted to recommend Rojo for tenure, but college President Alison Byerly denied it, citing negative student reviews.

Rojo says he is a stict teacher and students mistake likability for abilty.

"I think the basis for her decision is weak," Rojo says.

He contends that tenure should be based on a faculty decision per the college’s faculty handbook. The president’s veto shouldn’t override that faculty’s decision, he said.

The college said it respected Rojo's right to disagree with the decision, but hoped he would express his views in a way that didn't endanger his health.

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