SF State faculty participates in nationwide ‘Scholar Strike’


Emily Curiel

Although faculty members in the CSU work under a “no strike” clause, the CFA encouraged its members to discuss race, police violence and inequality in the classroom (Golden Gate Xpress)

Members of the SF State faculty began participating in an online, two-day nationwide forum on Tuesday in an attempt to bring awareness to systemic injustices targeting people of color across the country.

The “Scholar Strike” is a grassroots online demonstration promoting a work stoppage for faculty of universities nationwide to protest “violence against communities of color,” according to a statement released by the California Faculty Association, the labor union for employees of the California State University system. CSU faculty works under a “no strike” clause, yet members of the SF State faculty are being encouraged by the union to use their classrooms to discuss topics on race, police violence and inequality.

James Martel, SF State’s CFA chapter president and professor in the department of political science, said that although SF State faculty will not be overtly striking, it plans to participate in the nationwide teach-in by submitting a video that will be played on the Scholar Strike Youtube channel.

“We sent a video in, and [other universities] have too,” Martel said. “It’s a four- or five-hour long loop that you can plug into and just sort of see people’s statements from all over.” Uploaded videos to the Youtube channel include voices of staff from Drexel University, Georgetown University and University of Pennsylvania.

Martel said that the CFA plans to use the Scholar Strike to deliver a list of demands to administrations across the CSU. This list of demands, developed by the association in May after the murder of George Floyd, is separate from one compiled by the SF State faculty during the summer, according to Martel. The demands to CSU administrations are: to recognize the importance of Black lives in the CSU and the unique challenges they face, to uphold rights to protest anti-Black racism, to defund armed police on campuses and to protect Black LGBTQ+ lives. 

According to the statement by the CFA, the Scholar Strike originated on Twitter through Anthea Butler, associate professor of religious studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, taking inspiration from the strikes of NBA, WNBA and MLB at the end of August. Those strikes arose in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Associated Students Vice President of External Affairs Joshua Ochoa said that SF State students are hopeful to continue the conversations on issues affecting Black individuals and other communities of color to see the list of demands met going forward. In August, the Associated Student Social Justice & Equity Committee held a virtual forum for the school’s Black students to voice concerns with the school and discuss President Lynn Mahoney’s commitment to hiring more Black faculty and staff and further funding toward Black resources. 

“I would love to have these conversations with CFA as well,” Ochoa said. “I’m hoping that it is what will blossom out of the meetings we are having with them next week, but we have really been working on trying to address these inequities.”

The Scholar Strike will continue throughout Wednesday, with teach-in videos continuing to be uploaded to the Scholar Strike channel on Youtube highlighting faculty from around the country.