UC Berkeley professors take action in solidarity with nationwide Scholar Strike

Photo of empty lecture hall
Isabella Ko/Staff
Considered both an action and teach-in by Anthea Butler, one of the organizers of the protest, the Scholar Strike inspired some UC Berkeley professors to cancel class, while others took the opportunity to speak about racial injustice during their lectures.

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Professors nationwide participated in the two-day Scholar Strike, which began Tuesday and was established to promote awareness in higher education about racial violence and inequality in the United States.

Considered both an action and teach-in by Anthea Butler, one of the organizers of the protest and a University of Pennsylvania associate professor, the Scholar Strike inspired some UC Berkeley professors to cancel class, while others took the opportunity to speak about racial injustice during their lectures.

The protest began Tuesday and ended Wednesday. Canada is also holding its own Scholar Strike, which started Wednesday.

“We can no longer sit quietly amidst state violence against communities of color,” Butler and co-organizer Kevin Gannon said in an Academe Blog post. “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.”

UC Berkeley School of Public Health professor Eva Harris said she used her time during a lecture Tuesday to discuss how structural racism leads to infectious outbreaks.

She added that the class conversation was exciting and personal despite being conducted over Zoom.

Campus junior and Black Sociological Alliance, or BSA, president Mia Ndalugi said while initially she was excited about the Scholar Strike, she was disappointed that not many people knew about it or seemed to participate.

“I think it’s crazy how ever since I got into Berkeley, I’ve gotten a bunch of emails from the chancellor,” Ndalugi said. “I don’t think I got a single Berkeley email about this, which is a little disheartening. A lot of my peers didn’t know this was a thing. If only Black people know about (the Scholar Strike), then that’s sad.”

Ndalugi has been actively posting Scholar Strike resources on BSA social media accounts to spread awareness.

In a Twitter livestream Wednesday, Butler called for educators to start addressing racism occurring on their own campuses and to start looking at the internal institutions within their universities that are opposed to racial justice.

“We ain’t stopping. … We’re going to keep moving, keep grooving, keep scholar striking,” Butler said during the livestream.

Contact Julie Madsen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Julie_Madsen_.