Mount A students speak out against potential cuts to women and gender studies program
A group of students at New Brunswick's Mount Allison University are upset over word of the possible cancellation of the women and gender studies program due to funding cuts.
Kathryn Stevenson is one of many students at the liberal arts university who is concerned.
“It's just really disappointing that women in gender studies programs are first to be put on the cutting block,” says Stevenson.
The news came in the form of an email from the program's acting director Lisa Dawn Hamilton, who found out from the dean of arts.
“I can't say I was too surprised,” says Hamilton. “I thought there would be some funding, or just have budget cuts, but I was quite disappointed and surprised the entire program wouldn't be offered next year.”
The students CTV News spoke with say they are outraged at the idea of cuts and have started a movement to keep the program in place.
“We've had an immense amount of messages, support on social media, Facebook, Twitter, a petition was started last night that has almost 2,000 signatures,” says Stevenson.
The petition has gained support from as far away as Germany,
“Because two thirds of our student population are female, because our sexual assault policy is over 20 years old, because we were the first university in the British Empire to give a woman a degree,” says student Teressa Carriere.
The university's history aside, students say these studies are especially important now. The cross examination of witnesses in the Jian Gomeshi trial is the latest talking point in a growing conversation about women's issues and gender issues in North America. Staff and students at Mount Allison say this has helped the program grow.
“The program has done a great job over the past few years of building its enrollment, in fact, it's quadrupled of the past few years. All of our courses have waitlists, they're over-enrolled, very popular on campus,” says Leslie Kern, former assistant professor.
The university administration released a statement saying it hasn't announced an intention to cut the program, and no formal review has taken place.
“Those allocations have all yet to be made,” says Gloria Jollymore, vice president of university advancement. “Today is budget day in New Brunswick and so we don't even know what our budget is going to look like.”
Hamilton says this is the ideal time to get attention and funding for the program.
“Because the budget isn't finalized, it's only currently defunded, I think if students make enough fuss, perhaps we can get that changed,” says Hamilton.
Students say they will continue to rally for the program's survival.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Cami Kemke