Dennis Dalton, a 69-year-old Gandhian scholar and professor of political science at Barnard, has joined a group of Columbia students in their hunger strike, the professor said Saturday.
The announcement came one day after a second group of students voiced their intention to join the five already participating in the strike. The protesters' demands include reform of the Core Curriculum, revocation of Columbia's 197-C rezoning plan for Manhattanville, and greater resources for the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race.
Dalton, who attended the strikers' Saturday night vigil, said he joined the fast on Thursday because he strongly agrees with these demands. "I want the core curriculum supplemented by writings on Gandhi, King, Malcolm X. I want a change. I have been arguing with the people in the administration since 1969 about this and have been met by indifference. I would like some acknowledgement of non-violence in the Core."
Slated to retire after this academic year, Dalton said he has used fasting as a means of non-violent protest several times before. He participated in the 1985 protests that precipitated Columbia's divestment from companies operating in Apartheid South Africa, an effort which included a 21-day hunger strike.
Dalton will continue to teach classes as he lives on water and orange juice.
"I have fasted in protest movements many times before, so there is no reason to be concerned on my account," Dalton added. "I also have the significant advantage of my wife, Sharron, being a professor of nutrition and registered dietitian at NYU, so she is able to monitor my condition closely."
While Dalton has spent significant time at strikers' camp, he said he did not intend to relocate there yet. "It depends on the administration's response."
"The four demands the hunger strike has set forth have all inspired my enthusiasm and approval, and therefore I believe that I should act non-violently to achieve them," he said. "Simple as that."
Two students in Dalton's class, Aretha Choi, BC '10, and Samantha Barron, BC '10, are among the original five strikers.
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