Cultural studies

Students protest against merger of gender and culture studies and Future FASS

Yesterday, students from across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) went on strike from their classes, gathered on the lawns of the Quad to hear speeches before marching to the F23 Michael Spence building, in protest against changes in Gender and Cultural Studies (GCS) under fierce opposition Future FASS proposal.

The University proposes to move the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies from the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry to the School of Social and Political Sciences and to demote the Department to a discipline that students and staff fear will it does threaten the independence and radical nature of GCS.

GCS third year student Misbah Ansari said that “GCS has always been interdisciplinary, focusing on people as politics, identity and with multiple units challenging the conventional academic structure. We need the integrity of this ministry more than ever.

Ansari explained how the department grew out of a 1974 protest for an independent Department of Women’s Studies, focused on the philosophy of feminist thought, and reminded the crowd how radical this history and philosophical orientation was. are intrinsic to GCS.

“Massive unit cuts could also mean job losses for casuals, many of whom focus on anti-racist political thought and challenge this institution. [the University] like the white academic entity that it has always been.

Photo: Aman Kapoor

Ansari criticized the university for wanting to remove FASS study units with less than 24 enrollments, rather than wondering why there aren’t many students studying them in the first place, which she said. attributed to the neoliberalization of higher education.

Ansari said this encourages students to “keep learning what the environment wants us to do, rather than having safe spaces and proliferating our knowledge for bigger and future actions that we can organize.”

Amelia Mertha, head of women and gender studies at SRC, said that “if anything, GCS should grow. It has such beautiful and radical potential, it’s not yet perfect, ”they said, echoing Ansari’s criticism of how white feminism has long dominated the field.

Mertha explained that the units were “essential to the politics and theories of liberation and change” in the feminist organization on campus, “from learning to disrupt the binary gender, to understanding the reproductive justice outside of traditional reproductive rights, be it justice for people with disabilities, sovereignty, learning to challenge hegemonic whiteness.

They also noted that the GCS is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry due to the left-wing feminist organization that created it, citing RSC education officer Maddie Clark in Honi Either: “As student activists today, watching the success of the strike can give us hope and inspiration for what collective action can accomplish. “

“This is what we are doing here today,” Mertha said. “Future FASS my ass. We are the future! ”

Photo: Aman Kapoor

Ella Haber, third-year GCS student and organizer of the Hands off GCS campaign, said the proposal meant “we would lose casual jobs, we would lose our classes, our department would lose its autonomy … and that would empower the high school. direction. hands to oversee the content we should be in charge of. So fuck that.

Haber also explained how important the theory taught in GCS is to anti-oppressive power movements, criticizing former FASS dean Annamarie Jagose for calling the student protest chants sexist:

“The idea that queer theory can be deployed by the boss to attack the worker is a queer theory that we don’t want to have anything to do with. It’s not sexist when people less powerful than you stand up to you, Dean Jagose.

“The only form of queer, feminist, or anti-racist theory that we really see as liberating as GCS students is one that sides with the most vulnerable, with the precarious casual workers you refuse to protect, many of whom are women, people on visas denied to parental leave, superannuation and job security, ”Haber said, to the crowd’s resounding cries of shame.

Photo: Aman Kapoor

SRC Education Officer Tom Williams Addressed University “Lies” Spread Over 13 Weeks Future FASS consultation process: “You can’t dress shit and make someone think it’s gold. “

“There are two very obvious things that the dean hid: the merger of GCS and the whole Future FASS proposal is an attack on our education and we don’t want it!

“Unsurprisingly, decimating postgraduate studies is not good for postgraduates. Reducing staff hours, increasing workloads and laying off permanent and casual staff, unsurprisingly, is a terrible thing for staff and also for students. The substance of the whole Future FASS the proposal is odious.

Williams said the university “squeezed astronomical profits out of an entire faculty and set it up as a money-making machine for years to come.”

“Everything is justified because there is a speculative and distant crisis of profit. The real crisis is not in profits, but in education, in gender and cultural studies and arts education in general.

Speakers called on students to attend the General Student Assembly to oppose the Future FASS cuts and restructures on October 27, which needs more than 250 participants to achieve quorum.

“These cuts are so broad, so clearly unnecessary and with such opposition, that we can and will win by uniting!” Williams said.