Womenâ€™s Studies on the Chopping Block
Friday, March 20, 20096 Comments
The move to eliminate Women’s Studies must still be reviewed and approved by the Senate and the Board of Undergraduate Studies, and there is a growing campaign to save the major. Many students are not convinced that the price the university will pay by getting rid of the department is worth the money that will be saved. Three faculty members have added their voices to the campaign. This includes Karen Wendling (Philosophy), Marta Rohantynski (Anthropology) and Janet Wood (Molecular and cell biology). They point to the fact that cutting the program will only save 0.17% of the University’s predicted shortfall. Serge Desmarais, associate VP of Academic at Guelph, has conceded that cutting the program will save around 100 000 dollars a year. In January, Women’s Studies Coordinator Norman Smith offered to cut the budget by more than half but this proposal was turned down.
The administration has argued that this is purely a financial decision based on the recommendation that any program with under 40 majors should be cut. Critics of the decision say that a price tag cannot be put on the Women’s Studies program and that the small amount of money that it would cost to keep the program running would be money well spent. They point to the fact that the program is one of the only places where barriers in society are discussed, such as racism, sexism and homophobia, and that no other majors have been singled out for elimination as of yet.
Canada remains a deeply unequal society in terms of systemic sexism. According to Statistics Canada, data collected in 2005 shows that for full-time workers, women earn just 70.5 per cent of what men earn. When part-time and non-standard work are factored into the equation, women earn just 64 per cent of men’s salaries. Canada’s success in overcoming sexism has actually slipped in recent years. During the late nineties Canada was ranked number one in the world in terms of the international gender development index. By 2006, Canada’s ranking had slipped to 25th. The local campaigners to save Women’s Studies argue that the program’s worth must be measured with the national context in mind.
Students have organized a rally in support of the Women’s Studies program for Thursday March 26th. It will be held at 1pm at Branion Plaza (the cannon).
For the campaign's Facebook group click here