by: Julia A. Seymour, June 27, 2006
From a recent debate on college-level women’s studies courses, we get a glimpse of why graduates with that degree are hard to find, though such classes have become commonplace in most universities.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to learn what a women’s studies degree does. My guess is it qualifies you for a future teaching women’s studies,” said Professor Mike Adams of University of North Carolina at Wilmington as the students laughed loudly and applauded the debaters.
After a lengthy historical explanation of how women’s studies arose from women’s movements which were birthed by civil rights movements of blacks, Dean Gay L. Gullickson of the University of Maryland concluded that “research and teaching on women could not be pursued better by forsaking women’s studies.”
“On an intellectual level, courses about women’s issues are a good idea and they are also good pedagogically,” said Gullickson.
Women’s Centers are different in that they are student-initiated and organized, but they are good and students have the right to create them, according to Gullickson.
Professor and Townhall.com columnist Adams, however, had something very different to say at the debate before Eagle Forum Collegians.
“Women’s resource centers are not student-organized. In 2000, UNC-Wilmington established an ad hoc committee of feminist Democrats who wanted to create a women’s resource center and they created a survey,” said Adams.
The survey did not ask students if they wanted a women’s resource center, instead it listed a series of proposed activities for the upcoming women’s resource center (WRC), said Adams.
With a stacked deck of mostly female respondents caused by the school’s 70-30 female-to-male student ratio, Adams explained, the students still only approved 5 percent of the activities.
“67 percent approved self-defense courses. I like that, I want them to have guns,” said Adams, earning loud applause, “but [UNC-Wilmington] already had self-defense courses.”
“In 2001 we had [the center], but no physical location and no classes were ever offered. But they [the feminists] used the survey as justification to create it,” Adams said. Even after two female students were killed in separate incidents in 2004, no self-defense classes were offered at the center, according to Adams.
What these people really wanted to do was promote their agenda, said Adams, who further explained that the WRC began advertising for Planned Parenthood, he told them they were required by law to allow Lifeline Pregnancy Center to advertise too. Rather than advertise for Lifeline, they chose to remove Planned Parenthood advertising.
“Abortion is the holy sacrament for them,” said Adams.
“The kinds of women’s centers I mentioned are the kind found all around the country, not those established by faculty,” Gullickson said in her rebuttal.
Gullickson also disagreed with Adams regarding balanced viewpoints. “That would mean you would have to argue FOR slavery. In all cases you do not have to present both sides,” she said, “I’d also like to say I don’t know any feminists for whom abortion is a holy sacrament, but they believe in equality.”
Adams responded with an explanation of when viewpoint neutrality is required: “when you open a public forum with funding the University must remain viewpoint neutral.” Adams also said his WRC is just like others across the country and that when he called 12 different schools and asked to speak to one pro-lifer among WRC staff there were zero out of 120 people.
During Q and A, Gullickson said that professors cannot cover everything in a class and it is their job to define subject matter and students can always choose what courses to take. She also said calling women’s studies “notorious” is a caricature.
I was able to ask Gullickson how she can say that women’s studies is good for research when, as Carrie Lukas points out in her new book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism, these texts have misinformation and missing information that women need to make life decisions.
“I don’t like textbooks,” said Gullickson, “I don’t use them when I teach and I haven’t read the book you are referring to so I really couldn’t say.”