Roll on! University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, John Carroll University to join national student fast…

Student fasters at the University of Notre Dame, who will join Georgetown University and John Carroll University in a rolling fast of Catholic Universities this week.

Students at several of country’s largest Catholic universities unite to announce series of rolling 48-hour fasts throughout this week! 

PLUS:  Read the reflections of Vanderbilt, Tampa Bay, Ohio State students as they come together with CIW members to discuss the groundbreaking fast for farmworker justice…

It’s going to be another big week of news from the student organizing front this week, as a growing wave of student activism in support of the Wendy’s Boycott — set in motion by the weeklong student fast on the campus of Ohio State University last month — continues to roll out to universities across the nation.

Today, we bring you breaking news from the campuses of three of the country’s most hallowed Catholic universities.  Following the inspirational fasts of students at Ohio State University, University of Michigan, New College of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and Vanderbilt University, over a dozen students and alumni from Notre Dame, Georgetown, and John Carroll universities have come together to take on three, sequential 48-hour fasts this week.  Even as these new fasts take off, updates continue to roll in to Immokalee from last week’s fasts in the Tampa Bay region, the ongoing fast at Vanderbilt University, as well as the escalating Boot the Braids Campaign at Ohio State University — with much, much more to come in the week ahead.

Georgetown, Notre Dame, John Carroll step up to (and away from…) the plate!

First up this week, John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, a school with a longstanding relationship with the CIW through its Alternative Spring Break Program, will launch the fast today.  Building off the experiences of a generation of students who have come to Immokalee to learn about conditions in the fields — and what they can do as students to join farmworkers in changing those conditions — five John Carroll students will open their fast with a ceremony at high noon today, launching a two-day encampment that will conclude with a delegation to a local Wendy’s near campus on Wednesday.

From there, fellow Jesuit institution Georgetown University in Washington, DC — a longtime Fair Food stronghold — will follow.  Six students at Georgetown, supported by alumni across the country, will begin their fast Wednesday, hosting a series of events to educate fellow students, and ending with a Thursday evening vigil organized in conjunction with DC Fair Food and students from George Washington University.

The week will end with a 48-hour fast at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, one of the first universities to join the Student/Farmworker Alliance and home of a high-profile, successful Boot the Bell campaign during the Taco Bell Boycott.  Three Notre Dame students (two pictured above), also inspired by a visit to Immokalee last month and their participation in the first several stops of the Return to Human Rights Tour, will begin on Wednesday evening with a “Last Supper” and then will continue with a series of campus events to educate their fellow students on the Wendy’s Boycott until the fast breaks at sundown on Friday. 

Meanwhile, National Catholic Reporter, a widely-circulated source of Catholic news for the past 50 years, has turned a spotlight on the rolling fasts.  In addition to covering last month’s landmark fast by OSU students, NCR published another piece this week cataloguing the incredible progress of the rolling fast in the wake of OSU:

Hunger strikes protesting Wendy’s snowball across college campuses

By Shireen Korkzan |  Apr. 21, 2017

After 19 students at the Ohio State University concluded their weeklong fast to protest fast-food chain Wendy’s, students at Big Ten rival University of Michigan joined the cause.

The students broke their fast March 26, when about 500 farmworkers, college students, religious leaders and consumer allies marched three miles in the Parade for Human Rights in Columbus, Ohio, in solidarity with Florida farmworkers. Wendy’s is headquartered in the nearby suburb of Dublin.

University of Michigan students attended the parade, and after, the Ohio State fasters and six Michigan students joined a stage together to launch the next leg of fasting. As the Ohio State students broke theirs with bread, the Michigan students began a 24-hour fast of their own. This “passing of the torch” officially ended the parade, which also marked the end of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ 12-city, two-week Return to Human Rights Tour… Read More

We’ll bring you updates from the fasts at John Carroll, Georgetown, and Notre Dame as the week progresses.

Student fasters from Vanderbilt, Tampa and OSU reflect on the powerful experience of fasting for farmworker justice… 

CIW’s Santiago Perez joins student fasters from Eckerd College on Friday as they break their fast. PHOTOGRAPHER // Lisette Morales

Throughout the past week, as the Tampa Bay fast came to a close and students at Vanderbilt and OSU dug in for their respective Boot the Braids Campaigns, student fasters were joined by CIW members to reflect on the extraordinary momentum generated by their courageous actions, as well as the experience of fasting itself.  This organic, truly stunning wave of student action in the Wendy’s Boycott is at once building enormous public pressure on the fast food chain, and transforming each and every one of the individuals who take on the act of fasting in the process.

Today we bring you reflections directly from student fasters as well as from CIW and supporting people of faith.  First, here below are just a few of the highlights from the breaking of the Eckerd College fast, which concluded on Friday evening with a beachside, sundown ceremony and with the blessing and company both of student fasters from Sarasota and of Rev. Kim Wells from Lakewood United Church of Christ:

PHOTOGRAPHER // Lisette Morales

Holly Rutherford, Eckerd College: “I fasted for five days, and I’m going to break that tonight. It was a lot harder than I thought…but I am grateful that I had this experience to reflect on the issues that farmworkers in Immokalee are facing and to think about the broader implications of Wendy’s continuing to refuse to join the Fair Food Program.”

CIW member Santiago Perez: “Today, with so many students involved, we are like a pebble in Wendy’s shoes. And every day, we grow to become more pebbles. One day, we’ll be enough to bring Wendy’s to the table! Today, there are thousands of workers who know that we are not alone. They see students, people of faith, consumers, corporations, interested in protecting our rights.”

PHOTOGRAPHER // Lisette Morales

Rev. Kim Wells (pictured above): “Food is essential to life. And the farmworker movement honors all workers. It’s also about the dignity of consumers, because we are all diminished when our food supply is tainted by injustice. It dehumanizes all of us. 

You all talked about fasting, and I really admire you for that, along with the students from the other schools in solidarity with farmworker concerns… You’ve made a sacrifice, but I imagine you’ll find that you’ve received far more from your experience than you gave up.  And I believe that’s the character of the farmworker movement.  It’s teaching us to honor the humanity of each and every person.”

Upon breaking their fast, students took off their armbands — the very same ones passed off to them by New College students last week — and placed them in envelopes, to be sent off to Georgetown, John Carroll and Notre Dame.  

Meanwhile, students leaders from Ohio State University drove nearly twelve hours round-trip to Nashville, Tennessee, to join CIW members and Vanderbilt Students, now in the home stretch of their own 7-day fast, for a reflection on the growing movement.  As the gathered students moved into final preparations for major Wendy’s actions in Nashville and Columbus on Tuesday, they took a moment to reflect on their personal experiences fasting, as well as the road ahead:

Josh Palmer, Vanderbilt University: Starting Tuesday, I will go back to eating normally again.  But so many people, including farmworkers, will still be working hard, without getting breaks, after working all day in the fields — they can’t.  As Tuesday happens, this hunger for justice will be taken up others, and this memory of how we felt will change and motivate us to fight for better conditions.  This has been a transformative experience.

Alex Hoey, Ohio State University:  My fast was one of the most strengthening things I’ve ever done.  These reflections, which we did every morning, would rebuild my power… We would build power from each other.

CIW Member Cruz Salucio:  I think what 2017 has brought is historic for the Campaign for Fair Food.  The last time that students took an action like this, with rolling fasts, was in 2003 — almost 15 years ago.  As workers, we recognize that you’re lighting a fire in the Campaign…

… Over the years, we have been ignored by corporations or growers, but we never took a step back.  We kept fighting.  Sooner or later, Wendy’s too will feel that force that we’re creating, and they will join the Program.  And you will be part of that victory, and part of that change…

… Today, the same growers who ignored the actions of farmworkers [in the 90s] have come to realize that human rights cannot be ignored.  Those who put food on your table are important.  What we’ve created with the Fair Food Program — partnership between growers, retailers and farmworkers — is the ultimate goal.

On that inspiring note:  Make sure to stay tuned for more breaking updates this week across the country as Notre Dame, Georgetown, and John Carroll launch rolling 48-hour fasts, Vanderbilt students mobilize end their 7-day fast with a march through campus tomorrow, and Ohio State students take to the streets in Columbus for Tuesday’s major mobilization!