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McDaniel College faculty participating in #ScholarStrike against racial injustice, police brutality

Faculty members of McDaniel College are participating in a nationwide two-day strike in response to police violence against Black individuals throughout the country.

The initiative, known by the social media hashtag #ScholarStrike, came in response to high-profile instances this year of police violence against Black people , including in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back multiple times by a white officer. The strike was planned for Sept. 8 and 9.

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“Awareness doesn’t mean anything without action," said special education professor Henry Reiff, who helped organize the McDaniel faculty’s effort, along with professor Jim Kunz.

When faculty met virtually Thursday to brainstorm ways to participate, Reiff said, many showed interest. Some said they wanted to hold in-class discussions with their students. Because Reiff is on sabbatical, his contribution to #ScholarStrike was organizing at the local level.

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“I hope that our students are able to recognize the importance of what a truly just and equitable society is, or would be," he said, “and I think we hope that we raise their awareness of the inequities and particularly the oppression that’s been perpetrated on African Americans.”

Reiff said the organizers of the nationwide #ScholarStrike, Anthea Butler and Kevin Gannon, were inspired by the WNBA and NBA players who stood up for the Black Lives Matter movement in refusing to play games after Blake was shot.

Gannon tweeted, “We will use this time as a public teach-in about police brutality and violence in our communities from both historical and contemporary perspectives.”

McDaniel College released a statement from President Roger N. Casey on Tuesday supporting faculty who choose to participate.

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“Here at McDaniel, we are guided by our First Principles, which demand that we respect others and share responsibility for the common good,” Casey wrote. “As we continue to strive for a diverse and inclusive campus, it is important that we stand in solidarity with our students and the communities we serve. This is why as a College, we support this cause and our faculty members who have chosen to participate.”

Cheryl Knauer, a McDaniel College spokesperson, said faculty may proceed with class as usual, hold in-class discussions on the topic or cancel class altogether. Others may share resources with students or encourage them to participate in activities inside or outside of class.

“It is up to each faculty member to decide their level of participation,” Casey wrote.

Their action, Reiff said, reminded him of a deceased spiritual leader from the McDaniel community, religious studies professor Ira Zepp. Reiff recalled Zepp saying that knowledge without action is not knowledge.

Reiff did not know as of Tuesday afternoon how many faculty participated, but said he’d likely take a poll of his colleagues afterward.

Members of the McDaniel community with questions or concerns can email diversity@mcdaniel.edu.

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