Pennsylvania professor goes on hunger strike over tenure denial

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.

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 respects Rojo's right to disagree with the decision, but hopes he will express his views in a way that doesn't endanger his health.

Rojo told Lehigh Valley Live that he doesn’t have the resources to pursue legal recourse against Lafayette.

He said that he has received a lot of support for his decision and he said that if he doesn’t get tenure he would have to choose another career of uproot his family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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