After two weeks of student protests and an online petition with more than 7,000 signatures on it, Mount Allison University has agreed to continue its popular Women’s and Gender Studies program for at least one more year.
The program’s acting director, Lisa Dawn Hamilton, says she’s pleased that the university found enough endowment money to offer all four core courses in the 2016/2017 academic year.
“Having money for next year is a positive sign that the university is willing to invest in this program,” she says, “but, at this time, we don’t know what will happen in the future.”
Hamilton adds that there will be further discussions in the fall about the program’s long-term future.
Katharyn Stevenson, president of the Mount Allison Women’s and Gender Studies Student Society, says students will need to keep up their pressure to ensure the program survives beyond the next year.
“Although it’s very exciting, we need to keep in mind it’s not a permanent fix,” she says. “We really need to make sure we stay involved in the process.”
Stevenson credits student activism for saving the program, at least temporarily.
“I hope students don’t lose their zest for activism,” she says.
“I know it’s easy to be disillusioned with the school and with all the things that seem so out of our control. But I just hope people keep this experience, these past two weeks in mind when another issue arises and they think, oh I can’t do anything about this because you can.”
Lisa Dawn Hamilton says she also learned about the power of student activism and the ability students have to change things at the university that they’re not happy with.
“I think it’s important for students to know that too that they do have this voice and they are important. So that was probably the biggest lesson for me was having the support of the students and seeing how effective that activism was.”
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