Dozens of silent student protesters appear to have won an initial victory in their fight to rescind cuts to the Mount Allison Women’s and Gender Studies program.
Members of the Board of Regents, the university’s highest governing body, had to walk by the protesters on their way into their private meeting today in Tweedie Hall.
After the meeting, a student representative on the Board told protesters their presence led to a lengthy discussion about student dissatisfaction at Mt. A.
“Board members were asking questions to the administration about why is there so many students so pissed off outside,” said Willa McCaffrey-Noviss.
“That was the best Board meeting I’ve ever been in,” she added.
“I felt that it was the first time that we’ve talked about what we should be talking about, which is the student dissatisfaction in issues that we’ve been wanting to bring up.”
Student dissatisfaction flared again this week when word spread that the university planned to cut funding to core courses in Women’s and Gender Studies, a move that would effectively gut the program.
There were 44 students enrolled in the minor this year with total enrolment in the core courses of 192, but many other students were upset university administrators planned to cut courses that explore questions of power, justice and equality.
Within days, an online petition demanding a stop to the cuts had been signed by more than 6,700 supporters.
Students told to keep up their pressure
Students’ Union President, Dylan Wooley-Berry, who serves as the other student representative on the Board of Regents, told protesters he felt their voice was heard at the meeting.
“I talked at length about how students kind of get dissatisfied and quite frankly pissed when you cut their program and they’re half-way through taking it,” he said.
He added that a lot of Board members seemed conscious of the fact that cutting Women’s and Gender Studies would have a negative impact on student satisfaction.
Wooley-Berry urged protesters to keep up their pressure by attending the town hall budget meetings that the university is holding on February 9th and 10th as well as the Mt. A. Senate meeting on February 16th.
“The budgetary process for the university,” he said, “is just beginning and it’s important that you show up and have your voices heard if this is how you really feel…This is how we’re going to protect our Women’s and Gender Studies program.”
For his part, University President Robert Campbell had little to say to the protesters beyond a few cheery “hellos” as he walked past them on his way out of today’s meeting.
Click here for more information on Women’s and Gender Studies at Mt. A.