As students return to class online and in some in-person settings, the Honors College at one of the world’s largest public universities has decided to go on strike for two days in the name of “social justice”.
The faculty strikes without demand, though they do plan to host two days of programming for students.
In an email sent to Honors students within the past several days, faculty explained that “in this urgent moment in history, our country’s need for systemic social change takes precedence over our regularly scheduled curricula.”
They went further: “Please know that we care deeply about your well-being – and it’s because we care about our students that we take this action, as carrying on as though things were normal suggests a complicity with a system of violence that we cannot condone.”
On September 8th and 9th, students will be without Honors classes, but are instead invited to attend “complementary programming” intended to “educate” students on racism in America.
Among the presently listed seminars are sessions titled:
- Monuments and Race: An Archaeological Inquiry into Tearing Things Down
- A People’s History of the Police
- Learning from the Witch Trials
Scholar Strike, a national movement initiated via Tweet and furthered by Colin Kaepernick, the NBA, and the WNBA is described as “both an action, and a teach-in.”
According to the web page created for Barrett, the Honors College’s strike, “[faculty] will, for two days, refrain from [their] many duties and participate in actions designed to raise awareness of and prompt action against racism, policing, mass incarceration and other symptoms of racism’s toll in America.”
While many students welcome certain reforms to American institutions, they also worry that this action from faculty is ineffectual, un-American, and dangerous.
Through using verbiage such as “system of violence” and their stated intent to take “prompt action against… policing”, many feel that they are alienating those with opposing viewpoints and threatening academic freedom.
The idea of a “system of violence” is derived from Johan Galtung’s concept of “structural violence”, developed in 1969. His line of scholarship is in line with and has been more recently built on by “anti-racist” public thinkers and Marxist thought-leaders.
Anti-police rhetoric, such as that now propagated by Honors faculty, has been used in the past year to exacerbate rioting in major urban centers, leading to the injury and death of many in-uniform and out.