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The Women’s and Gender Studies is facing budget cuts Campus 

The Women’s and Gender Studies is facing budget cuts

Earlier in the school year, it was announced that the Women’s and Gender Studies Major, which has been at Vanier for almost 50 years, would face budget cuts. What that entails is that teachers who are coordinating the major will receive only one class release (they get to teach one less class than is the usual requirement) instead of two, as was usually the case. The administration argues for equity as the justification for this decision by emphasizing that other majors, such as the Indigenous Studies and Sustainability Majors, which were launched at the college more recently, only receive one release. While we all agree that equity is essential; the point is that learning opportunities that address such important societal concerns should not ever be decreased but should rather strive to be enhanced and accessible to all. This means that all Majors should receive the support needed in order to provide an active and evolving curriculum to Vanier students, especially when they oversee such relevant issues in today’s and tomorrow’s society.

The Women’s and Gender Studies Major has implemented a number of projects over the course of its tenure with the objective of improving the Vanier experience for both students and staff by creating an inclusive and equitable environment for all. These initiatives come by virtue of an extensive implication from teachers and staff members who work to build a network of resources and solidarity to make Vanier an environment with an intersectional understanding of their students. More than 100 courses are accessible, which stimulates students to consider the roles of genders and the status of women in society while also understanding the need for intersectionality in their approach to problem-solving.

These budget cuts entail a diminution of time that devoted teachers will be capable of allocating to major related events. One can only imagine the time that it must have taken to organize the symposium that we had earlier this semester, where several scholars presented important topics related to women and gender studies, but also race, education, and more. Thus, it is disheartening to hear that there is a lack of recognition of the extensive effort that teachers put into organizing such events from the administration.

Motions advocating the necessity to support such a major have been passed by the Vanier College Teachers Association, various departments (including the Humanities Department), and 30 teachers and staff testimonials were gathered.

“Never forget that it only takes one political, economic or religious crisis for women’s rights to be put in jeopardy. Those rights are never to be taken for granted, you must remain vigilant throughout your life” -Simone de Beauvoir

The following interview is a testimony from a graduating health science Vanier student and part of the Women’s and Gender Studies Major, Mehnaz. Through this interview, we aim to provide Vanier College a clear example on why keeping this program striving is necessary for students.

Why did you decide to major with a Women and Gender studies certificate?

I found out through a humanities class that I took my first semester at Vanier, after the teacher presented the Women and Gender studies major. I also enrolled because I thought that it might give me a more well-rounded view of the world. It also helped me tailor my classes, and build on from the knowledge I’ve acquired from related classes. Lastly, gender issues are all around us, so I think it is important to be well informed on how they might impact us.

What did you learn from the program, exactly?

I learned that you sometimes need to go back in the past in order to understand present issues and come up with ideas on how to solve them. I also learned how to analyze how people interact based on these issues, and how the media perpetuates the ideas around gender roles.

How do you believe that the knowledge you have acquired from the program will affect your future self, your career, your relationships with friends, etc.?

I think it will help me with how I will interact with others, in my personal and professional life. As a science student, we tend to underestimate how prominent gender issues are, but as someone who will treat people you have to be able to understand them and their background in order to help them.

Do you consider Vanier’s offering of such a program to be necessary? Why, yes/Why, not?

Yes, well, all of what was mentioned before count as reasons, but I also believe that knowledge should be accessible and that it is an asset for everyone to have that type of exposure to these issues that are all around us in our society. Any learning opportunity should be enhanced rather than taken away from students. Sources of knowledge should not be limited but rather expanded. I also think that such programs and the courses offered are opportunities for students from different backgrounds to have conversations that might never have otherwise.

I want to express my gratitude to Mehnaz, Maggie Kathwaroon, and all the teachers and staff who struggle to keep such programs accessible to Vanier students. Their implication should not be taken for granted, and it is essential to remember that you all have a voice as students. Take the time to speak out as a support of the majors and the devoted teachers by contacting the administration.

By: Sofia Marsico

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