women's and gender studies

On Nov. 14 the Student Government Association (SGA) unanimously approved S.R. 56.2-9, an act to support the establishment of a women’s and gender studies major at UNC Charlotte. The proposed major has been pending approval by the Board of Governors since April 2019, but has still not surfaced on their agenda. 

The act was primarily sponsored by Enrique Rodriguez-Cue, Chair of Academic Affairs. It was co-sponsored by Jacob Baum, Pro Tempore of the Student Senate, Jonathan Mitchell, Parliamentarian and Fahad Firdausi, Belk College of Business Senator. 

Rodriguez-Che said he introduced the legislation because “there was a pretty widely expressed interest [to support the proposed major] in SGA after the release of the Niner Times’ story,” published on Nov. 3. The bill passed unanimously and with “very little pushback.”

The act outlines five reasons for supporting the proposed major: the request to plan began in 2014 and was approved by both UNC Charlotte and the UNC System; there are 300 students enrolled in the minor; five universities in the UNC System already offer the major; it’s a desirable skill set for new employees; and it would prepare students for the “changing business landscape.” 

The Bachelor of Arts in women’s and gender studies (WGST) is a 33-credit degree program that would be delivered in-person with some online courses available and include two optional concentrations: “Gender, Health, and Culture” and “Gender, Diversity, and Leadership.” The program would be interdisciplinary and offer many cross-listed courses with departments like political science, Africana studies and biology. 

The UNC System approved the proposal for the major with overwhelming support in April 2019 and sent it off to the Board of Governors, where it remains. It must first be approved by the Committee on Educational Planning, Policies and Programs before the entire Board can vote. It was originally set on the committee’s September agenda, but still has not been discussed.

When asked whether he thinks the act will influence the Board of Governors, Rodriguez-Cue says he’s doubtful because the Board of Governors is already aware of the University’s support. 

It was originally announced that the major would be offered in the fall 2019 semester. Now, even after the major is approved, it has to be filed with the Department of Education, which can take up to 6 months. If it’s not approved, it will have to go through all of the steps for approval again, this time under the supervision of a new UNC Charlotte chancellor.

“[This act] expresses something that should already be obvious, which is that there is a desire for this major,” said Rodriguez-Cue. 

The earliest the major would be offered is fall 2020. 

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