To whom it may concern:
My name is Shadia Siliman, and I am a senior Gender Studies and Psychology double major here at the University. I am writing to you today to express my concern in regards to the divestment of the Gender Studies major at the University. I will be graduating in the Spring of 2013; it may seem that these changes will not directly impact me. However, my professional reputation will be influenced by the school’s choices even years after I leave the University. Furthermore, I feel it is my responsibility to maintain this important program for future students.
In 2009, I entered the University as an Art major at Hartford Art School, with a minor in Psychology. By the beginning of my junior year I was registered with my current double major. My academic discovery would never have been possible without the Gender Studies classes offered at this University. I remember each and every Gender Studies class I have ever taken and its full impact on me. If I had not been required to take a Gender Studies class in order to fulfill my Psychology general education credits, I would not have met the amazing professors that changed my life. I am now applying to graduate school programs that offer PhDs in Gender Studies.
I know that my personal experience cannot be translated into budget numbers or a value on the scale of “importance to the University”. The passion that backs my words is unlikely to have a great bearing on the committee’s decision. Because of this, I will provide a logical appeal:
I cannot discover the reason for the divestment of the Gender Studies major. I read the Foundation of the Future report and emails; they did not provide an answer. I went to the student town hall meeting and asked why the Gender Studies major was being cut; I was not given an answer. I spoke to several professors in the Gender Studies department; none could provide an answer. Discouragingly, my professors expressed the same feeling of cluelessness. They too read every email and report; they too went to their town hall meeting; they too spoke to the administrators above them. After all of this, not a single person can tell me why my major is being cut.
The Gender Studies major cost less than 5,000 dollars a year to maintain. All but a maximum of two of its classes a semester are interdisciplinary. This means that the University only has to pay for a maximum of two Gender Studies classes every semester. This explains the rather minimal cost of 5,000 dollars. Though it has been suggested that cutting Gender Studies would save that money, the minor would still require at least one of those classes (Introduction to Gender Studies) in order for students to fulfill the minor. Therefore, I would like to emphasize that cutting the Gender Studies major would not save any money.
Why cut a major when it makes literally no difference in cost to the University? The program may not be big, but it is extremely successful. Its classes are filled every semester (and often beyond capacity), and the interdisciplinary nature of the program allows students from a wide variety of majors and colleges to benefit from its selection. Thus, I can think of absolutely no explanation for this divestment. This is no longer a question of budget; it is a question of what the Gender Studies major has done to warrant a divestment.
The divestment will mean nothing more than the loss of the title of “major”. There is no reason to eliminate the title if the same exact classes will be offered as before. It reflects poorly on the University to cut a Humanities program, especially without providing an explanation. The dismissal of Gender Studies is truly a dismissal of one of the campus’ sources of activism and education. Humanities programs such as the Gender Studies major justify the college’s titles as both a liberal arts college and as an academically diverse school.
I am asking that you do not divest the Gender Studies major. I can see no reason to do so, and I believe the decision would damage both the reputation and curriculum of the University. The Gender Studies major has only ever benefitted this school, and it will continue to do so in the future.
Thank you for reading this letter, and thank you for your consideration.