We, the faculty of the Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies, write in support of Scholar Strike in Canada, a call to action in higher education to “protest anti-Black, racist, and colonial police brutality in the US, Canada, and elsewhere.” For more information, including the strike’s origins in a tweet by Professor Anthea Butler, see: https://scholarstrikecanada.ca.
We pause during these opening days of the academic year — September 9 and 10 — in order to use the resources of the university to educate ourselves about long histories of anti-black racism, white supremacy, and police violence, including their connections with Indigenous struggles for sovereignty. Beginning the term in this way acknowledges that there can be no business as usual in our universities, as we grapple not only with the COVID-19 pandemic but with the way that it has thrown into sharp relief police brutality, systemic racisms, and economic disparities.
Scholar Strike Canada calls for a number of ways to support this educational initiative, which include, but are not limited to, a general labour strike. Their website includes a list of public electronic teach-ins and other activities that represent opportunities for teaching and learning. This work is integral to the Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies, where we are making curricular changes that will more fully reflect our intersectional vision of the inseparability of race, gender, sexuality, and ability. We are in the process of more fully integrating our programs in Women’s and Gender Studies, Sexuality Studies, and Disability Studies, and we are submitting a proposal to add a Minor in Critical Race Studies. In the coming year, we look forward to working to achieve the goals of Kinàmàgawin (Carleton’s Indigenous Strategy), the Coordinated Accessibility Strategy, and the forthcoming Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan.
However you choose to spend these next two days, we hope that you will devote time to the opportunities for learning made possible through Scholar Strike Canada. For those of you who are students, some of your instructors and TAs in the Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies may choose to cancel classes so that you can attend Scholar Strike’s many online events; others may spend time in the classroom addressing these issues so as to show their integral connection to your courses. The Scholar Strike teach-ins provide a valuable opportunity to learn from some of the best Black, Indigenous, and racialized faculty and public intellectuals in Canada. Carleton needs to hire more faculty in these areas, and until it does so, we will need to draw on the resources provided by others beyond the university to support our research and teaching.
The two days of Scholar Strike are just one of many ways in which this work must continue. Eliminating racism and white supremacy is a long struggle, and the university has an important role to play in building worlds that will allow all of us to flourish.
– Ann Cvetkovich (she/hers)
Director, Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies, Carleton University (on unceded Algonquin territory)
(on behalf of Katherine Bausch, Patrizia Gentile, Amrita Hari, Dan Irving, Xuan Thuy Nguyen, Megan Rivers-Moore)