BOSTON- A black MIT professor began a hunger strike Monday to protest the university's decision to deny him tenure - a decision he claims was based on racism.
James Sherley, 49, a stem cell scientist, said he has tried unsuccessfully for two years to persuade administrators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to reverse a decision by his department head to reject his bid for tenure.
In December, Sherley gave MIT officials a deadline of Feb. 5 to reverse the decision. If not, he said he would start a hunger strike outside the office of MIT provost L. Rafael Reif.
Sherley stuck to his word. After eating two bowls of Chex cereal for breakfast, he stood outside Reif's office for several hours Monday morning in a peaceful protest, accompanied by about 25 friends and supporters.
Sherley, who is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 254 pounds, said he planned to go without food and ingest only water, vitamins and electrolyte supplements until the university acknowledges racism played a role in the decision to deny him tenure. He said he would spend three hours each morning outside Reif's office, then continue his research work in his lab at MIT in the afternoons.
"Right now I have no plans on stopping until something significant changes," Sherley said Monday