The leaders of the ‘UWA Has Major Issues’ campaign ran a stall during common lunch hour today to raise awareness about the Arts Faculty’s proposed rescission of its Gender Studies, Medieval and Early Modern Studies and European Studies majors. The proposal will be voted on when the University’s Academic Council meets on August 5.
Women’s Officer Emma Boogaerdt and Education Council President Tom Beyer distributed information to curious students about the proposed cuts, and gathered signatures from those against the changes to present before the Academic Council. Boorgaerdt and Beyer were optimistic about the success of their petition, which has amassed over 300 signatures so far.
The Gender Studies major at UWA has long faced an uncertain future, having been removed in 2011 and reinstated in 2012 following student protest. Those beginning their degrees in that year were still unable to enrol in the major, and enrolment numbers have continued to dwindle.
Boogaerdt asserts that the combined effect of low 2012 enrolment and UWA’s removal of Gender Studies (alongside Medieval Studies and European Studies) from its prospectus and other promotional materials has contributed to the decline. “The units in these majors have high student satisfaction scores, and I would argue that if there is any issue with low enrolment this is largely due to lack of certainty, as they have been cut and brought back in the past, and the failure of UWA to adequately promote them.”
She also expressed disappointment that the proposed decision to axe the majors had been made with limited student consultation, and without the Faculty providing a clear justification. She said that the proposed removal of the three majors “fails to take into account their academic value, and the prestige that they bring to UWA”. UWA is the only university in the state to offer any of the three majors currently under threat.
Boogaerdt hopes that the ‘UWA Has Major Issues’ campaign will gain enough traction to convince the Academic Council that the majors should stay. “The Dean of Arts said that she is amenable to having them brought back in three years if there is sufficient interest, so we aim to show her that there is sufficient interest amongst students right now.”
Words by Kat Gillespie