Staff member goes on hunger strike

John Mejia strikes to combat racial injustice

Brandon Arcari, Assistant Breaking News Editor

Update 11:45 Feb. 24, John Mejia has ended their hunger strike:


A hunger strike began outside of Waterman as part of a new demand for racial justice action at UVM and in the City of Burlington.

John Mejia, a student services professional in the Office of Student and Community relations at UVM, said that they were protesting anti-black racism at the University.

Mejia planned to camp outside Waterman, but as of Saturday, Feb 17, the tent was gone.

The strike began at 4 p.m. on Feb. 16, Mejia said.

“I am on a hunger strike until the list of demands that I gave to UVM and the City of Burlington are met,” they said.

The strike is due to the “the amount of anti-black racism that is rampant at this University,” Mejia said.

UVM police services said that though they were aware of the protest, they did not remove Mejia.

“I stand in support of John. I believe everything they are fighting for is valid and that their voice needs to be heard,” sophomore Harmony Edosomwan, president of the Black Student Union, said.

Mejia’s list of demands includes all of the demands from the list submitted by anonymous activist group NoNames for Justice Sept. 25.  Mejia’s list adds that a fourth flagpole should be added to the Davis Center to fly the Black Lives Matter flag.

“The anti-black racism at UVM has been here forever, but recently it has been given license to grow and be visible,” Mejia wrote in an online petition. “I have worked within the system to try to effect meaningful change but I believe it is time for something radical.”

“It’s ok to be white” flyers were found near where Mejia was camped on Feb. 17.

The flyers appeared on campus Nov. 7 as part of a national campaign against the media, according to a Nov. 3 Washington Post article.

The posters, despite seeming innocent of racial intent, were created as part of an online campaign to sow social unrest through the deliberate appearance of innocence, according to the Post article.

The posters have also appeared at colleges across the country, including Tulane University in New Orleans and Harvard University in Boston.

“To the extent that the signs were intended to promote a white nationalist ideology, as news reports have suggested, we condemn the activity in the strongest possible terms, as it is completely antithetical to our core University values,” University Communications Director Enrique Corredera stated in a Nov. 7 email.