Lindsay Wrobel, the senior who helped spearhead last week’s protest against UR, is in day five of her hunger strike, with no plans to stop until University President Joel Seligman fires Professor T. Florian Jaeger or resigns himself.
That is, if she isn’t hospitalized first.
“I have to keep checking my blood oxygen and my heart rate,” she told the Campus Times on Sunday, after about 90 hours without food. “I can feel my heart pounding all the time because it’s effort for it to keep going because of what little energy I have.”
Wrobel said her blood oxygen level has reached as low as 85 percent. According to the Mayo Clinic, a normal blood oxygen reading should range from 95 to 100 percent.
Wrobel began her strike at midnight last Thursday as the most extreme tactic yet in her and others’ protest of how UR handled sexual harassment claims against Jaeger. Revelations about those allegations and how UR dealt with them sent much of campus — and alumni — into an outrage. Over 7,500 people have signed an online petition calling for Seligman to fire Jaeger and reform the school’s sexual harassment policies.
Wrobel, who was winded when she walked into the Campus Times office, has skipped most of her classes since Thursday.
“My individual education matters less in my opinion than the educations and the livelihoods of everyone on this campus who has been impacted,” she said.
She showered for the first time since Thursday on Sunday and had trouble standing for so long and holding her arms up to wash her hair. On Saturday, someone called Public Safety and an ambulance to visit Wrobel. She told an officer it wasn’t time to go to the hospital yet. It would be time to do so, she told the Campus Times, if she began passing out or experiencing something of a similar caliber.
“When they would rather let a student go to the hospital than make the changes,” she said of the administration, “that’s going to reflect so incredibly poorly on them that Seligman isn’t going to have a choice. He’s going to have to resign.”
She added: “If they let it get to that point, they’re digging their own grave.”
In an email to Seligman last Saturday, Wrobel told the president she would be updating him as the effects of the strike worsen “because you need to know the direct consequences of your inaction.”
“You are causing people direct and immediate harm — and you deserve to have to face that harm on someone’s physical body so that you cannot avoid it in the ivory tower of Wallis Hall,” she wrote. “You still have a choice — and if you won’t or can’t fire Jaeger, I’d also accept your resignation (something you definitely can do) as a way to end my hunger strike.”
Later that day Seligman replied: “Lindsay, I am very concerned to hear about how you are feeling today. My primary interest is your health and safety. I understand you are passionate about your cause and I respect your rights to express yourself as you choose, but I would urge you to put your well-being first.”
Wrobel told the Campus Times that Seligman’s reply was “the bare minimum he could have said to seem like a caring individual.”
Asked what she thinks of her critics — some find her tactics unfair, others stupid — she said, “I don’t think anybody has the right to criticize how oppressed groups protest their oppression.”
And if Jaeger reads this article, she said, he should just resign because she really wants a cookie.
Correction (9/18/17): The article misstated where Wrobel talked to a Public Safety officer and miscalculated how many days she has been on strike. It is day five, not four.