Scholar Strike Forming On Social Media May Be Omen Of Things To ComeHistorians in the News
tags: strikes, labor, academic labor
The call for a 48-hour work stoppage in higher education has been initiated by two university faculty members as a response to recent police shootings of African American citizens. Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and Kevin Gannon, professor of history at Grand View University, wrote on Twitter that “it’s of crucial importance for those of us in higher education to take a stand with our students and the communities we serve.”
Using the hashtag #ScholarStrike on Twitter and other social media outlets, these two professors are proposing a general strike for 48 hours — immediately following Labor Day on both Tuesday September 8th and Wednesday September 9th — or “working to the clock” in the case of unionized university employees. “It is time for the academic community to do more than teach classes and offer reading lists on racism, policing, violence, and racial injustice,” the two professors wrote on the Academe Magazine blog. “It is time for us to pause the endless meetings on diversity and inclusion, disrupt our institutions’ routines, look outward to the American public, and share our dismay, disgust, and resolve.”
In the earliest days of the planning process, it was reported by Inside Higher Ed that there were over 600 faculty members already committed to the strike. The expectation is that these professors will not teach nor carry out any administrative duties during those two days. They also have been encouraged to participate in public teach-ins and become involved in events taking place on various social media channels.
Of course, with so many university courses currently being hosted online, the idea of a walkout takes on a different meaning amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, Professor Butler noted that the majority of activities will occur within an online environment. "For the main piece of #ScholarStrike, I'm building out a website,” she said. “We'll have a YouTube channel where we're going to post 10 minute lessons about injustice in America and talk about policing and organizing.”
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