Hunger Strikes

This week, Emad Abdullah Hassan, a Yemeni man held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, renewed his legal effort to fight the policy of tube-feeding detainees on hunger strike in protest against their ongoing detention. Last month, the D.C. Circuit held that the federal courts have jurisdiction over cases where Gitmo detainees challenge the terms of their confinement, though the panel declined to enjoin the practice of forced feeding. (You can read the specific claims in Hassan’s case here.)

Nasogastric feeding, the method used with Gitmo hunger-strikers, is where medical staff deliver liquid nutrition directly to a patient’s stomach via a thin plastic tube inserted through the nose.

Critics call the forced feeding torture. Is it?

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Ed. note: When Zenovia Evans (a.k.a. Ethan Haines) outed herself as the law school graduate going on a hunger strike for the cause of law school transparency, she revealed that she lives in Denver. Also living in Denver: Caleb Newquist, lead editor of Going Concern, Above the Law’s sister site for the accounting profession. Zenovia ended her hunger strike today, but Caleb was able to sit down with her for a revealing interview over the weekend. His thoughts — and pictures — appear below.

I met with Zenovia Evans last Friday at a Starbucks in Denver on Colfax Boulevard. The 28-year old, barely-employed law school graduate has been making a stir in the mainstream press and the legal blogosphere ever since she started a hunger strike on August 5th. Admittedly, I was (and remain) skeptical as to her approach as a way of promoting law school transparency and career counseling reform.

When I met Evans, she had a glass of water and a nearly empty 32-ounce Gatorade sitting in front of her.

The purpose of Evans’s hunger strike is well-documented in the coverage here at ATL and in several other news outlets. The bottom line for her is that law school transparency and career counseling at law schools are overdue for change. Major change.

On the day we met, Evans had allegedly abstained from solid food for the last 23 days, so I was expecting someone who was knocking on death’s door. Having experimented with fasting (for health reasons) in the past, and knowing the mental and physical preparedness that is involved, I was surprised to find her lucid — although extremely weak, fatigued and slow-moving…

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Zenovia Evans

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on “Ethan Haines,” a law school grad who is allegedly on a hunger strike to support the cause of law school transparency. Today, Ethan has outed herself in USA Today, as Zenovia Evans (pictured).

Here’s the USA Today report about her hunger strike:

One recent grad even went on a hunger strike on Aug. 5. “We have a new crop starting, and no one’s telling them anything about this,” says Zenovia Evans, 28, of Denver, who uses the name “Ethan Haines” on her blog,

The first in her family to finish college, she says that “no one wants to say, ‘Hey, career office, you failed me,’ ” but “I couldn’t take this lying down.” She says she owes more than $150,000 in loans.

So she’s a girl! Well, that’s one twist.

At least one anti-law-school blogger (aka “law school scamblogger”) who initially supported Haines / Evans now feels like the whole thing is a publicity stunt, maybe even a hoax…

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As of this writing, Ethan Haines, writer of the UnemployedJD blog, has gone 32 hours without food. I think the kid might be joking, but Haines said he is going on a hunger strike — to convince law schools to be more transparent about the employment options of graduates, before the schools rope them into three years and six figures of debt.

He’s even served official notice of his hunger strike on five law schools, and he’ll put five more on notice today. From his self-styled media advisory:

On August 5, 2010, Ethan Haines, self-designated J.D. Class Representative, emailed an Official Notice of Hunger Strike to administrators of ten randomly selected law schools ranked in the Top 100 of the 2010 U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. These schools were selected because they stand to gain the most from keeping the current rankings structure in place.

Ethan intends to bring awareness to the concerns of law students and recent law graduates by having them addressed by law school administrators. Their primary concerns are inaccurate employment statistics, ineffective career counseling, and rising tuition costs. The strike was motivated by a recent American Bar Association (ABA) investigate Report, which concluded that educational leaders are unable to timely combat the adverse affects of U.S. News’ rankings on legal education.

It’s a worthy cause, even if Haines’s methods seem a little tongue-in-cheek. At the very least, unemployed law graduates with mountains of debt don’t have a lot of spare money lying around for food. Might as well put all those hunger pains to good use.

And maybe he’s not joking? Like all legitimate hunger strikers, Haines has a list of demands…

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