We write to spread awareness of the Scholars Strike in support of Black lives, and to encourage graduate workers to participate in any way they can. Inspired by the striking WNBA and NBA players, the Scholars Strike began with a tweet from Anthea Butler, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies and Interim Chair of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. After a strong showing of support, Professor Butler was joined by Professor Kevin Gannon in organizing a 48-hour general strike on September 8-9. You can hear more about it from Professor Butler here.

To avoid confusion, the strike is not being called by our union but by scholars from across the country. However, we encourage graduate workers and our colleagues to participate in whatever way they are able. Professors Butler and Gannon have offered a range of modes of participation, and the main event is a virtual teach-in, the details of which they will release in the coming days. Beyond work stoppage and attendance at the virtual teach-in, other ways to participate include posting on social media using the hashtag #ScholarStrike, teaching about the history of racialized violence in America, and supporting work on our own campus to confront Columbia’s persistent racism, such as the recent demands released by Mobilized African Diaspora.

We encourage graduate workers to sign up to receive more information from Professors Butler and Gannon and to show them support. Note that in order to protect precarious workers these names will not be made public.

We thank you all for all you do to support the Movement for Black Lives. We encourage members of GWC to reach out to columbiagradunion@gmail.com with any ideas or thoughts on what we as a union can do to more deeply support this work.


We wish to give the final word to the statement from Professor Butler and Professor Gannon:

“Given the recent events of police brutality, most recently the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha Wi, and the murders of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, and many other police shootings during the summer of 2020–an intensification of the trend we’ve seen in recent years–we can no longer sit quietly amidst state violence against communities of color. 

We believe that it’s of crucial importance for those of us in higher education to take a stand in solidarity with our students and the communities we serve. We also see the need to affirm protestors, workers for social justice, and activists who are crucial parts of making our communities better places. To that end, we propose a General Strike (for those who are working Union contracts, working to the clock) for 48 hours, to take place immediately after Labor Day, on September 8-9. We believe that it is long past time for us to make a collective stand against police violence (particularly against communities of color) in the United States. We will refrain from teaching and all administrative duties for this entire 48 hour period. We will use this time as a public teach-in about police brutality and violence in our communities from both historical and contemporary perspectives. We plan to use our social media platforms and all other venues available to us to get the message out.”