from The Spectator (Eau Claire, WI)
Issue: 3/10/05

Hunger strike ends, claims victory
By Susan MacLaughlin

About 34 students who participated in a Progressive Student Association sponsored hunger strike got the go ahead to do something they had not done in nearly three days - eat.
Hunger strike press conference
Time: 11 a.m.
Date: Today
Place: Badger Room, Davies Center

At about 5 p.m. Wednesday, senior PSA President Andrew Werthmann said he learned that legislation had been introduced by State Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Frank Boyle, D-Superior to freeze tuition.

"I decided at that point that the best thing to do would be to eat, because our demands had been met," he said.

Werthmann started eating again by taking a bite of a granola bar at about 7:15 p.m. The strikers have been told to start with foods high in carbohydrates first, because their bodies have entered into a state called ketosis, he said.

Ketosis, according to the Food and Drug Administration, is a condition in which the "kidneys try to get rid of the excess waste products of protein and fat."

The strikers have all had different experiences, Werthmann said.

"For myself, I woke up (Wednesday) morning, and I wasn't hungry at all," he said. "For some of the people, they're hungry the whole time. They're counting every hour."

Each member of the strike was valuable to its success, Werthmann said.

"A hunger strike is nothing without numbers," he said.

UW System President Kevin Reilly was asked about the student hunger strike during a university media conference call on Tuesday.

"Certainly I hope (nobody hurts) their health," he said.

The tuition at System schools is still reasonable, Reilly said.

"Even with steep increases, our tuition is reasonable and people need to keep that in mind," he said.

Werthmann disagreed with Reilly's statements.

"(Tuition) is only reasonable if you look at it in a vacuum," he said. "If you look at (the percentage increase) over the last biennium, it's not reasonable."

Werthmann said the hunger strike was helped by all of the media attention it received. The strike was covered locally by the Leader-Telegram, WQOW TV-18 and WEAU TV-13.

A press conference to announce the end of the hunger strike and what Werthmann said he considers a victory will be held at 11 a.m. today in the Badger Room of Davies Center.

"This is the first step in this victory," Werthmann said. "Now we need all students to come out and support this legislation that they're proposing for a (tuition) freeze."

Sophomore hunger striker Jon Radcliffe agreed, adding that his first bite was "complete euphoria."

"We're very happy with the way things turned out," Radcliffe said. "No matter what the representatives feel about it, we will be pushing ... and advocating for this bill to pass."

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