Dartmouth Attempts to Conclude Student's Hunger Strike

August 7, 2020

Maha Hasan Alshawi, a Dartmouth College Ph.D. student who started a hunger strike in mid-July to protest the college’s handling of her sexual harassment complaint against a professor, said this week she would no longer be drinking liquids, The Boston Globe reported.

The college announced on Aug. 4 that it would launch an external investigation into her allegations, but this does not seem to have prompted Alshawi to seek medical attention, according to posts on her Facebook account. On July 20, Dartmouth said it would pursue an external investigation if Alshawi showed the college she had received a medical evaluation to ensure her safety, an offer that was not accepted, according to a July 24 statement from the college.

Alshawi posted on Aug. 5 that the college had not confirmed with her that the investigation was open and said she currently weighs 77 pounds.

“I feel that I am starving and dying,” said a recent email sent from Alshawi’s address to the Globe.

Dartmouth had previously said in a July 16 statement that “no further investigation or other action is warranted or appropriate” for Alshawi’s case, but the college has now reversed course and said it would take the “extraordinary measure” of opening an outside investigation.

“As we have said repeatedly, we are committed to Maha’s well-being and want to support her return to good health,” the college said in an Aug. 4 statement. “We call on her community of advocates and supporters to join us in asking Maha to seek medical attention immediately.”

Alshawi accused a computer science professor of touching his genitals in her presence multiple times, and she said she was retaliated against by other faculty members when it was known she would report the incidents, the Globe reported. Dartmouth said it had reviewed her allegations through established procedures under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded institutions. But supporters of Alshawi say her case reflects a pattern of Dartmouth mishandling sexual misconduct on campus.

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