Changing directions slightly from last week, Mount Allison University has now decided to cut its gender studies budget by 50 instead of 100 percent.
According to CBC, the Sackville, New Brunswick school has now committed $12,000 to its women’s and gender studies program after student outcry over proposed budget adjustments that would have effectively obliterated the course.
The gender studies minor consists of four core classes, which
at the moment properly staffed would cost Mount Allison $24,000 in teaching stipends to the program’s sole, part-time, contract instructor, Tasia Alexopoulos [Ed: See below]. Next year, whoever’s teaching will have to make do with half the funding and students will have half the courses. Students who’ve already paid for and taken courses in the minor are still in a grey zone in future years (as is the program itself).
About 50 Mount Allison students held a silent protest late last week outside Mount Allison’s Board of Regents meeting against the controversial changes.
Mount Allison’s vice-president, Gloria Jollymore is quoted by the CBC saying allegations from students of misogyny in the wake of the cuts are serious.
“That’s a really serious comment and we take it very seriously,” Jollymore said.
Meanwhile, an open letter from close to 50 interdisciplinary Mount Allison faculty and staff members takes the university administration to task for its carefully-worded PR tactics to disguise the cuts as a staffing matter.
“These communications on the future of the WGST program have damaged the credibility of this administration in the eyes of the university community and the wider public. They reflect a deeper problem with the policy direction that is being pursued by this administration, its understanding of university governance and ultimately the university itself. The mission of the university in society is not to manage perceptions of the world through the clever distortions of media spin but to foster the critical capacities for which this kind of distorted communication has no power.”
Update: Lisa Dawn Hamilton, acting director of the gender studies program at Mount Allison, emails with a clarification about the teaching stipend and Alexopolos' salary.
"Previously the funding for this position was a full time associate professor salary (usually in the realm of $90,000-$100,000. Since the main faculty member was ill for the past year and a half, Tasia Alexopoulos has been paid a fraction of that salary to teach classes on a part-time basis. This means she is not paid for meetings with students, events, committee work, research, et cetera. Tasia does some of that work on a voluntary basis, as do I as the acting director of the program (something I do in addition to my regular duties for no compensation). So, while we were offered two courses for next year, they are still really only putting 25% of the program in place. There is much more than just teaching classes that makes up this program."