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CSA Board writes letter to university admin re cuts to Women's Studies

Thursday, April 2, 2009

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Written by CSA Board

TO: Alistair Summerlee – President, University of Guelph

Maureen Mancuso – Provost, University of Guelph

Donald Bruce – Dean of the College of Arts, University of Guelph

Krista Kermer – President of the College of Arts Student Union,

University of Guelph Student Senate Caucus

FROM: The Central Student Association, University of Guelph

DATE: March 26th, 2009

RE: Proposed Closure of the University of Guelph Women's Studies Program

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On March 11th, the Central Student Association Board of Directors passed a motion directing the executive to write a letter to outlining the student union's concerns and condemnation of the proposal to close the University of Guelph Women's Studies program.

The CSA recognizes that it is integral to the well-being of the academic environment at this university to foster discussion and education about gender and women's issues on campus and that this program provides the necessary academic framework needed to do so. The study and research of gender and women's issues has been historically under-resourced and marginalized in post-secondary institutions. The Women's Studies program here has been no exception. The University of Guelph administration has let the Women's Studies program die, as it has not been properly funded since it was created in the 1970s. The Women's Studies program has not had control over its curriculum for the program and it has not been reviewed or redeveloped in fifteen years. It also does not have core faculty and no program can survive without core faculty.

The outcry to the proposed closure of the program shows us all that Women's Studies extremely is an important and integral part of the university community. The program should have been a priority for this university, but it has been far from that. It is not enough to have a Women's Studies program that depends on forty-two classes offered through other departments. The women's studies program itself has only five core courses. This leaves Women's Studies students dependent on the curriculum and expectations of other programs.

There is a budgetary crises and the entire campus community recognizes this. The crises however does not excuse the administration from their responsibility to ensure that there is a strong academic framework on this campus to support the study and research of women, gender-based, and anti-oppression issues. The proposed closure of the Women's Studies is not just an issue of financial hardship. It demonstrates that Canadian universities are part of a larger society that does not prioritize challenging the continued marginalization of academia that focuses on women, queer people, trans people, and issues of anti-oppression.

Sincerely,

The Central Student Association 08/09

UC 274 | University of Guelph
csaonline.ca || thecannon.ca

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  1. Posted by: Not_My_CSA on Apr 6, 2009 @ 4:18pm

    only the strong survive. budgets have shrunk because endowments have shrunk. endowments have shrunk because endowments are basically just portfolios of stocks, bonds, cash, etc. stocks declined, bonds declined, & salaries across campus keep inflating while money dried up. the university is in debt to the tune of $159million+ (http://www2.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=3699d345-f2a1-458b-bb30-0dd8ac0fa84c&p=1). now, you mean to tell me this is because "canadian universities are part of a larger society that does not prioritize challenging the continued marginalization of academia that focuses on women, queer people, trans people, and issues of anti-oppression"? ha, everybody loves a conspiracy! perhaps another, simpler reason for the cuts is because they had to! money talks. women's studies is a small program and, really, it's like they're only cutting 5 courses.

  2. Posted by: Not_My_CSA on Apr 6, 2009 @ 4:19pm

    it all comes down to projections and how much money the university is expected to save in the medium to long-run. and, the university needs to start saving money. but go ahead csa, keep thinking this is a part of some larger, sinister scheme that involves universities canada-wide purposefully hating on women, queer people, transpeople, blah, blah, blah... that's sure to get you real far!

  3. Posted by: Not_My_CSA on Apr 6, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    why don't you take a hint from the university and start reducing your own budget and thereby make university cheaper and more accessible to prospective students (i.e. have the CSA look out for what the CSA does)? i realize you won't. instead you'll just keep raising student fees, while at the same time criticizing the university for either 1/ raising tuition to help preserve program's like women's studies, or 2/ whining every time cuts need to be made. well, get real. you can't have your cake and eat it too. and, unless you have some alternative solution that doesn't involve going deeper into debt, no one wants to hear it. it's hypocritical. and it's stale ideas such as yours aren't solving anything.

    in a way, this fight isn't even about women's studies. where's your big, hot-aired campaign defending organic farming? or did you figure championing women's studies was simply more nobler or would fetch more outrage?

  4. Posted by: Confused on Apr 7, 2009 @ 10:33pm

    What does WMST have to do with queer and/or trans people?

  5. Posted by: visitors on Apr 8, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    "What does WMST have to do with queer and/or trans people?"
    Everything. The following is taken from the College of Arts website.

    In Women’s Studies, students look at the forces - past and present - that have influenced the lives of minority groups, particularly women. The program primarily uses gender as a lens for analysis of historical, sociological, anthropological, literary, dramatic, psychological, philosophical, and political conceptions. Courses examine the intersection of gender with other issues such as race, class and sexual orientation to understand human beings and society.

  6. Posted by: why? on Apr 8, 2009 @ 7:23pm

    Agreed. Why doesn't anyone seem to care about organic farming?

  7. Posted by: Interested on Apr 9, 2009 @ 4:14am

    I care about organic farming. I actually care about organic farming more than women's studies. Organic farming is good for the earth... and the earth is good for giving women (and those who study women) a place to live. What I find interesting though, (and according to the senate, I'm not the only one) is that when I was considering this university, I had a happy-go-lucky granola girl tell me all about how "U of G may as well be a synonym for equality, environmentalism and originality"... or at least those were some founding principles. Here's my problem with that now. "Equality" in this case, seems to mean underfunding two very socially and environmentally important programs for years... and then cutting them completely because they were underfunded (and therefore under-enrolled). Keep the classes that make the most money. Overfund programs that are a dime-a-dozen to compete with schools like Queens and Western... but ditch some of the ones that make this school NOT Queens and Western.

  8. Posted by: Interested on Apr 9, 2009 @ 4:14am

    This school was built from farming, veterinary medicine and a women's college. So wait, I'm sorry, we're cutting stuff from the farmers and the women? Hmm... something seems... not... quite... right here...
    Oh and my assessment (take it as you will) is that as a rule, women throw down better than organic farmers... women arguably have a few hundred years of repression that they're still a little ticked about... (which explains the women's studies program) organic farmers as a group (and I'm no history major so correct me if I'm wrong) haven't really been beaten down by the man. They just don't have the same level of harboured resentment. That'd be why we're seeing a whole lot of outrage about women's studies and a whole lot of nothin' about organic farming. But give them time. Maybe we'll get some tractors on the highway again some time soon. Or better yet, in the bus loop.

  9. Posted by: John L on Apr 10, 2009 @ 7:22pm

    NMCSA

    It will be interesting to see if the CSA shows as much concern over the loss of the various other programs; presumably every bit as important to the membership as the Women's Studies program. Time will tell. I do wonder if the CSA ever took a run at offering alternative ways of dealing with the financial issues facing the university and, if so, what they proposed?!

  10. Posted by: itshardtopost on Apr 11, 2009 @ 10:53pm

    John L:

    Doubt it, the CSA's all about ideology instead of practical solutions. They protest against the cuts being made, while simultaneously pushing for eliminating tuition. Think about that one for a second.

  11. Posted by: perplexed on Apr 28, 2009 @ 12:15am

    " The study and research of gender and women's issues has been historically under-resourced and marginalized in post-secondary institutions. The Women's Studies program here has been no exception. The University of Guelph administration has let the Women's Studies program die, as it has not been properly funded since it was created in the 1970s."

    its has 20 majors..and receives the same funding as a major with 500 students...how exactly is this a program being underfunded?

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