Ivy League schools are typically regarded as bastions of intellectual superiority. What happens when these elite institutions begin to model dubious critical thinking? We have yet another test case from Yale, where a group of students are holding a hunger strike. Until they get hungry. Then they can go and eat.
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If you are scratching your head about this one, you’re not alone. The entire point of a hunger strike is the binary outcome at the end. The protestors either enact change, or they die. That’s a hunger strike. The threat of watching humans slowly and painfully waste away is the very vehicle that drives the other side into action.
Yet college is a place to experiment, no? Why not have a pretend hunger strike?
This group of grad students are on a hunger strike designed to force the administration to give them more favorable union benefits. Their “hunger strike” will take place in front of University President Peter Salovey’s home.
“Yale wants to make us wait and wait and wait … until we give up and go away,” eight members of the graduate student union Local 33 wrote in a statement. “We have committed ourselves to waiting without eating.”
Yale grad students are paid a stipend $30,000 a year. They receive health care benefits. The also have their $40,000 tuition paid in full. The Yale News is providing both sides an outlet for their voice. Yale’s administration has acknowledged the students’ concerns, but “strongly urges that students not put their health at risk or encourage others to do so.”
The hunger strike, though, may not put anyone’s health at risk. The participants aren’t really going to die for their cause. Instead, the intellectually bankrupt grad students will back out when they get too hungry, and invite other, well fed, students to take their places.
A flier from the group highlights the absurdity. “We invite you to visit us. Instead of eating lunch, come lift our spirits. When one of us can’t go on, come take our place.”
Yes. Because that’s exactly how a hunger strike works.
In an ironic twist, the Yale College Republicans held a barbecue within smelling distance of the ongoing strike.