Womens studies widens their coverage to be more inclusive

Alexandra ScicchitanoOpinions & Features Editor

Women’s Studies Program will be changing its name to Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

Women’s Studies started about half a century ago at Southern, with its first class beginning in 1971, said Yi-Chun Tricia Lin, the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

“We never doubted for a moment that we taught gender studies,” said Lin. “The program name was Women’s Studies, but within Women Studies, we know it’s about women, but it’s not all about women; it’s about the world we live in looking at through multiple lenses.”

The program focuses on gender, gender minority, race, sexuality and class, according to Lin. It is not solely about gender studies, she said, because it also includes anti-racist, anti-capitalist, queer and other studies.

“At Southern we have talked about this multiple times to see if, ‘Do we change the name; do we not change the name?” Lin said. “Finally, we said, ‘A lot of this request comes from the student, while we are firm in our belief that we know our discipline, called Women Studies, it’s not only Women Studies.”

According to Lin, the program is adding gender into its people on campus can understand more about who and what the program is.

“Part of the thinking is [that] this is a way to really tell the world. We know who we are, but really when the world sees Women’s Studies,” Lin said. “They think this is about men hating, all of this are very untrue images of women that march, women that make social change.”

Changing the name is a good way to help them recenter the classes offered by the department and help the professors within it rethink their teaching, and It makes them self reflect and ask, “are we doing what we’re saying we’re doing,” Lin said.

“Ultimately, it was an attempt [to] reinvigorate the curriculum, the teaching, our reach out effort, as well to potential studies and colleagues, who have an idea, who teach, but think it’s all about women,” she said.

Jenna Retort, the director of the Sexuality and Gender Equality Center, stated that she supports the name change and that it, “reflects the great work that they [have] already been doing in the department.”

“In addition to work in the classroom, I think the Women’s and Gender Studies does a lot of work in the community,” said Retort. “They facilitate 64 days of Non-Violence, so I think that the department does a really great job of organizing a lot of programming that is already going on on campus [and] in creating a robust schedule of events to kind of challenge our way of thinking
and to really engage our community in social justice efforts.”

Erika Sanchez, a graduate assistant in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, said she graduated from the Women’s Studies program at Eastern Connecticut State University, but she always thought all of the programs were named something more than just Women’s Studies, but that she was surprised and glad to learn of the name change.

“Whatever the name we give our program – Women’s Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies it’s all about transforming our world for the better, really for our children,” said Lin, “so that we leave behind us a better world.”

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