UK students say they will start 'hunger strike' in pursuit of basic needs

Published: Mar. 28, 2019 at 6:31 PM EDT
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Multiple University of Kentucky of students have declared they are going on a hunger strike until administration officials recognize their demands related to a “basic needs center” on campus.

Wednesday night, six members of the Basic Needs Campaign announced they would only drink water until their demands are met.

The student group is pushing UK to establish, fund and staff a physical basic needs center on campus that would distribute funds and resources to students who can’t make ends meet.

“Until the University of Kentucky stops denying students the right to food and housing, we will deny ourselves food. If you are able, anyone can join us, and we encourage you to; there is power in numbers,” an announcement from the Basic Needs Campaign said.

Dozens of other students said they will be altering their diets in alignment with the group’s mission. Students were also seen striking outside White Hall Classroom Building Thursday.

“We have tried rallies, phone zaps, and student assemblies. Nothing has worked. What we are facing is not just resistance to the Basic Needs Campaign. We face a University of Kentucky that puts profit over people. It is time for UK administrators to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem we face and act in proportion,” read an announcement from the Basic Needs Campaign.

UK President Eli Capilouto sent an all-campus email Thursday afternoon addressing the striking students. He said that the administration had been meeting with students concerned about basic needs on campus for months.

“We don’t all agree on every aspect of how to address these issues. But while we may disagree in some of our specific approaches, we will never disrespect the concerns that have been raised or those who have raised them,” Capilouto said in the email.

Capilouto also said the UK administration has reached out to the students who are going on a hunger strike.

We have reached out to them to show our concern for their wellness during this time and to assist them in any way we can,” the email said. “All of our students – their health, their wellness, and their success – are central to everything that we do. They are why we are here.”