By the time Lincoln University junior Amelia Sherwood found a moth in her salad last month, she was fed up.
The school's library had been closed for renovations since January 2008 and the 20-year-old elementary-education major had complained by e-mail to the university's president.
Sherwood, a vegetarian, picked the chicken off her salad - a vegetarian salad was not available - ate some of it and found the moth, and that put her over the edge.
So, the honor student from Connecticut went on a hunger strike.
It was a small but drastic measure designed to draw attention to the closure of the library at the Chester County institution and to food services that she and others insist are poor.
She began to post fliers around campus about the library's value. She tried to convince people to avoid the school cafeteria.
Then, three days after her hunger strike began, she says, campus police "tackled" her.
On Wednesday about noon, students protested in the rain about Sherwood's treatment, about the library situation and about other campus conditions, including the food service.
"I'm very concerned," Kaukab Siddique, an English professor, said at the demonstration about Sherwood's brush with campus security.
"Our [university] president should make it clear that nonviolent protest is acceptable," Siddique said.
"That's the last bastion of freedom. You can't have police action against students who are protesting in a nonviolent way."
Alicia Sherwood, Amelia's mother, said she recently received a letter that Amelia would be honored at a ceremony Nov. 12 with other students for high academic achievement.
She said she was appalled at her daughter's alleged treatment. "I wish she would transfer," she said.
The trouble began Sept. 30, when Sherwood was posting fliers outside the cafeteria. A campus police officer asked her what she was doing and for her to produce identification.
Thinking it was none of his business, Sherwood refused, saying that she had to go to class, and walked away from him.
She went into her dorm room to get things for class, and the officer was waiting for her in the hallway, she said.
She again refused to show ID when asked, and that's when three other officers came, she said.
She kept walking, and four male police officers "tackled" her to the floor, Sherwood said. Sherwood said that she was brought to campus police headquarters and "handcuffed and chained to a chair."
She was charged by the university's judicial board with assault on the officers, among other infractions, and given a two-week suspension - later reduced to one week - and 40 hours of community service.
A university spokeswoman would not comment about the incident or Sherwood's suspension.
The demonstrators protesting on Wednesday said that campus police had used excessive force, but they were also at the campus on Old Baltimore Pike near Oxford, Pa., to draw attention to Sherwood's original points - no library and shoddy food service.
Siddique, the English professor, said part of university learning is to to be able to go into a library and browse the shelves.
"A student may go in looking for one book but may find seven others they need on the shelves," he said.
"I was appalled at the way it was happening," Sherwood, said, about the long wait for the library's renovation.
Sherwood said she had learned in a letter from university President Ivory V. Nelson that the library renovation has been delayed, in part, because the university, a state-sponsored school, did not have enough money from the Legislature to proceed on schedule with the $17 million project. The state budget impasse further delayed funding, he said.
On Tuesday, the day before the protest, Samuel W. Pressley, a university spokesman, said that despite the library's closing, students can go to "modules," or trailers, where they can request books from library staffers.
But students said that they have to wait at least 24 hours for library staffers to retrieve books.
Pressley said the library was built in 1972 and needed major renovations.
"But when it's completed, it's going to be an awesome facility, really state-of-the-art and cutting edge," Pressley said.
It may be completed by late 2010 or early 2011, he said.
Another of Sherwood's complaints was that Lincoln's cafeteria, run by Sodexo, had gotten a 60 out of 100 score during an October 2008 inspection by the Chester County Health Department.
The same records show that Sodexo's cafeteria at the School at Church Farm, in Exton, had received a 92 out of 100.
Yesterday, Sodexo spokeswoman Monica Zimmer conceded that the 2008 inspection "did not meet our high food-safety standards.
"And within 24 hours, we took action to correct all of the health- inspection concerns. We are confident that the Sodexo operation at Lincoln will pass its next inspection with high scores."
To Sherwood, the moth she found was evidence that those corrections didn't stick.
Her hunger strike lasted 11 days - she said she drank only water or juice - ending when Nelson agreed to meet with her and the two discussed her concerns.
"At that point, I wasn't hungry for anything physical," Sherwood said. "I was hungry for change, and I was hungry for a better university."
She said that nothing came of the meeting, but "I can only hope that the student body will take action and fight for their education. At the end of the day, I'm fighting for them as well as for me."