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Saint Mary’s GWS program celebrates anniversary

| Tuesday, April 28, 2015

This year, the Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) program at Saint Mary’s is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Department chair Stacy Davis said the program officially began in September of 1985 as a minor only.

“Classes in women’s studies had been offered since 1972,” Davis said. “We started teaching an introductory course in 1994, and we had student-designed majors from the mid-1990s until 2013. This is our first year as a department with a major, so the 30th anniversary is a celebration of that accomplishment.”

Davis said the GWS program has a strong presence throughout the Saint Mary’s curriculum.

“The major would not have happened without the support of our faculty, who teach courses in over a dozen departments and programs that count for GWS,” Davis said. “Currently, we have five majors and 14 students will graduate with a minor in GWS this spring.”

Sophomore GWS major Michaela Gaughan said the program is important because it sheds light on important issues related to gender on a global scale.

“I think it is important for colleges to have GWS programs because they promote gender differences, create an understanding about gender [and] challenge students to think about the concept of gender,” Gaughan said. “I think it is important for women’s colleges to have GWS programs because historically women have faced inequality on the basis of their gender. I believe GWS programs provide insight to students about historical struggles women have endured along with present current challenges women face.”

Sophomore GWS major Kylie Garabed said having such a program on campus is beneficial because it can create a “feminist presence.”

“A feminist presence will make sure that the student body is aware of the social issues by holding lectures and events, and this will bring the issue of inequality to the minds of the student body,” Garabed said.

Davis said the Saint Mary’s GWS program has hosted several events on campus and in the community. It co-sponsored panels on the films The Hunting Ground and Fifty Shades of Grey, South Bend’s first Slutwalk and an event with the Girl Scouts with Michiana. The program also sponsored a talk by Joel Barrett, a writer who spoke about his experiences with ex-gay therapy.

Garabed said she has found the GWS program to be a rewarding experience.

“This program is truly amazing. The professors are all great and so passionate about what they are teaching,” she said. “All of the classes that I’ve had to take for my major have taught me so much more about myself and the world than I could have expected. I think everyone should try to take some sort of GWS course in their time at Saint Mary’s because it is just it is so rewarding.”

Garabed said GWS courses concern more than just women’s studies.

“Here at Saint Mary’s, we have a variety of gender and women’s studies courses that relate to masculinity and LGBTQ … taking one GWS course can provide a student with a new perspective on many social issues and inequalities. Saint Mary’s has a GWS program that is open to all individuals who share different perspectives and beliefs. The best part about going to class is knowing it is going to be discussion-based, and you’ll have the opportunity to share your perspective as well as discover something new.”

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