Another Florida university has made the decision to defund Women’s Studies in the wake of the economic crisis. Florida Atlantic University is one of a handful of advanced degree granting Women’s Studies programs/departments in the country; they offer an M.A. They are also among an even smaller number of WS Programs/departments that hosts an annual Symposium or Conference open to other campuses.
The Department has been informed that their Women, Gender, and Sexuality program and their M.A. will be cut in 2010 due to the budget. They are asking everyone who can to sign their petition to keep the program and degree alive.
Hello Friends, The administration at Florida Atlantic University is attempting to take advantage of the economic recession in order to dissolve the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, department, and M.A. program at FAU. You can help by signing the online petition at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/saveFAU/ we question the validity of the FAU administration's rational for proposing this unjust suspension. When the total money allocated to "Education" in FAU's last published budget (2006-2007) is $239, 949, 841.00 and the Women's Studies Center and M.A. program (at an operating cost of $60,000) only account for a total .00025% of that budget, we must question whether or not "budget cuts" necessitate the suspension of the program and center.1 Both the President's salary and Athletics departments have increased over the past year. From our perspective, the university has chosen its priorities; These priorities represent an inexcusable attack on all women in and out of the academy. At a university where the average salary of a male professor is $16, 000.00 higher than the average salary of a female professor, how else are we to interpret the proposed suspension of the Women's Studies Center and M.A. program than as an attack on women? Thank you so much for your help
The cutting of advanced degrees in Women’s Studies and the cutting of Identity Studies Programs in general, is becoming an all too familiar “solution” to the economic crisis. As the FAU case points out, the fact is most of these programs/departments represent a minor impact on the overall budget.
While I will continue to pass on these pleas from Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies Programs, I want to suggest a shift in our national level strategies toward pro-action:
- Hire people with advanced degrees in the discipline(s) – If we don’t require a PhD in our discipline or hire our own, why do we have advanced degrees?
- Fight for lines – it is easy to cut jobs when the tenured faculty can all go back to their “real department”
- Relevance to the Uni – generate national and campus wide attention to your programs/departments thru conferences, aggressive funding (grants), and innovative programs that you actively market
- Relevance to students – how many majors do we lose b/c of perception and curriculum that continues to not reflect the needs and interests of a diverse, social active, student body? (start with your website – is every photo in black and white or from the 70s? are all the women white? straight? able-bodied?)
- Actively recruit undergrad majors – not just brochures and departmental webpages, but participation in Freshman only and honor’s college programs, open houses/classes, campus psas and events, and keep admin offices and outreach officers offices stocked with WS info.
I’m not blaming the victim obviously we are always underfunded and oft-targeted, but we need to be proactive if we are going to survive.