On September 9 & 10, faculty at universities across Canada are encouraged to join “Scholar Strike,” an initiative to protest racism and police violence. Created by Dr. Anthea Butler, who was inspired by the actions of professional athletes, Scholar Strike invites academic staff to stand in solidarity with these protest movements, which fight for social and racial justice in Canada and around the world.
The initiative calls for academics to pause their regular teaching and administrative duties to participate in activities and actions like public, virtual teach-ins with presenters such as Desmond Cole, El Jones and Erica Lee, and a twitterstorm using #scholarstrike or #scholarstrikeCanada.
The Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT), which represents over 1,400 full-time faculty, librarians and contract academic staff throughout Nova Scotia, supports Scholar Strike. ANSUT encourages faculty, administration and students to be aware of the movement and to stand in solidarity with actions that support racial justice, and protest anti-Black police violence and anti-Indigenous colonial violence.
ANSUT supports actions relating to Scholar Strike Canada taken by faculty, part-time faculty and staff at our institutions. We also call on university administrators to show support by not penalizing those who participate. Over half (53%) of Nova Scotia’s university courses are taught by contract academic staff, a category of university employment in which Black, Indigenous, and other racialized faculty are often employed. They are in a particularly precarious position: we encourage those faculty to participate in this initiative in ways that they are able.
As students and faculty head back to class across Nova Scotia this month, we anticipate a wide range of support for the initiative – from in-class discussion of the Scholar Strike and issues of racism addressed in course readings throughout the term, to moments of silence as classes pause for reflection of widely publicized instances of racial injustice. We ask students, staff and faculty to also reflect on the systemic racism in higher education, such as the underrepresentation of Black and Indigenous faculty (full and part-time) in all Canadian institutions, the barriers to recruit, admit, retain and mentor Black, Indigenous and racialized students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and lack of affordable education, sustainable jobs and housing for students and contract academic staff at all universities.
Dr. Scott Stewart