Much like UCR’s current ethnic studies requirement, a new proposal by some members of the UCR community would require UCR students to take a gender studies class before they graduate. According to representatives, the proposal “is meant to raise awareness of conflicts related to gender and sexuality.”
The idea began in a gender studies course that associate professor of women’s studies Jane Ward taught in winter quarter after a series of controversial events occurred on campus. One of the incidents was a display of an inflatable funhouse that featured what appeared to be women’s legs hovering over a bed. To Ward, this “demonstrated that some students did not have the critical skills needed to … help create a campus climate of respect for women and people of all genders.”
With increasing interest from the student body, the gender studies proposal has since garnered additional support from students taking Ward’s feminist theory class this quarter. Evanny Escobar is one of the students currently working on the campaign. According to her, despite the the proposal’s intent to make the course a requirement, it does not intend to delay students’ graduation.
“We understand that many students have a very tight schedule as it is,” she said, “and right now we’re looking at ways to incorporate this requirement without it negatively impacting graduation times.”
The proposal would ask students to take one of the estimated 200 courses on campus that emphasize gender. Instead of adding units, one of the gender-related breadth courses in the humanities and social sciences that students already need to take would fulfill the proposed requirement. If the proposal is approved, then all undergraduate students at UCR, regardless of the major or college, would have to fulfill the gender studies requirement.
The idea has already received some support. A Facebook page was created in support of the proposal and has generated hundreds likes and positive feedback so far.
According to Escobar, there has been some negative feedback from some members of the community, however. “(People) think it’s going to be purely from a feminist’s perspective (and) that we’re men haters and we’re trying to rule everything, which is not what we’re going for,” explained Escobar.
Despite this, the students have already brought the idea to ASUCR’s attention and a resolution about the subject is expected to be voted on during an upcoming senate meeting. For the proposal to take effect, however, it would need to be sponsored by the women’s studies department before it is presented to the academic senate for approval.