UNLV Women's Studies FACT SHEET
Eliminating Women’s Studies (WS) would save UNLV $400,000. Yet the hidden costs would be immense and irreversible, especially to UNLV’s stated mission to “nurture equity, diversity, and inclusiveness.”
Eliminating WS would impair efforts to create a diverse and tolerant student body, eroding the university’s core educational mission.
• WS addresses issues in contemporary American culture that a majority of undergrads believe they should be learning about as college students.
• WS prepares students for a variety of career paths, from business to law to health to human services, and provides them skills they need to navigate an increasingly complex and global world.
• More than 2,000 students annually fulfill their General Education diversity requirement with WS courses – 14,000 students in the past six years.
• A 1998 Ford Foundation Survey found that almost 70% of American voters believe that “preparing people to function in a more diverse work force” and “in a more diverse society” are two of the top four goals of higher education.
• Research shows that students who take diversity courses develop the “more tolerant racial and gender attitudes” key to success in a diverse society and global economy. Students enrolled in women’s and ethnic studies courses show the greatest gains.
• WS faculty mentor student organizations key to nurturing equity, diversity, and inclusiveness at UNLV, including Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan (MEChA), Raising our Asian Rights (ROAR), Allied Students of Color, Vagina Warriors, and United Community for Immigrant Rights (UCIR). Women’s History Month and Vagina Monologues provoke thought, laughter, and tears.
• WS majors and minors routinely state in exit interviews that the critical thinking, analytic and writing skills gained in their WS courses far exceeds what they learn in other classes.
• Although the number of WS majors is small compared to larger departments with more faculty, half our majors are students of color – one of the highest minority ratios of any UNLV program or department.
Eliminating Women’s Studies would hurt efforts to nurture a diverse faculty.
• UNLV will lose the only department composed entirely of female faculty: Dr. Anita Revilla is the winner of four UNLV teaching awards and one of only two Chicana professors in the College of Liberal Arts (CoLA). Dr. Lynn Comella is a visible public intellectual, called upon by local and national media to comment on gender, sexuality, and policy. Dr. Lois Helmbold has won several major scholarly awards and was recently named Fulbright Senior Lecturer in Turkey.
• In the College of Liberal Arts alone, at least 16 women faculty resigned between 2002 and 2010. Half were women of color. UNLV is a revolving door for women, especially women of color.
• A 2009 Harvard survey of faculty from underrepresented minority groups across the nation found that “lack of diversity” ranked second only to “compensation” among the barriers to entry and retention at any particular university.
Eliminating Women’s Studies will save a minimal amount of money.
• Though low full-time equivalent students (FTE), or total units taught, is cited as a reason for elimination, WS, in fact, generates more FTE than 29 other UNLV departments and has one of the lowest cost-per-FTE ratios in the University.
• University data overstates the savings that would result from eliminating WS. An associate professor resigned in 2010 (in the wake of elimination threats), cutting the total current cost of WS to roughly $400,000.
Nationally and internationally, Women’s Studies is growing.
• There are 652 women’s and gender studies programs in the US.
• 17 universities have established PhD programs in WS since the early 1990s, all but one of these are public institutions.
• National Women’s Studies Association reports 42% growth in membership since 2005.
Balancing the budget on the backs of women, people of color, and other marginalized groups is not a sound fiscal strategy. Moreover, any university that wishes to be taken seriously as an institution of higher learning not only has a women’s and gender studies department, but recognizes the intrinsic value it provides to the university and the economic sustainability and vitality of the surrounding community.
Las Vegas – of all places – needs a heartbeat of feminism. UNLV students and faculty deserve the benefits that come from a vibrant, intellectually engaged, and diverse women’s studies department. By systematically targeting degree programs that cater primarily to women and students from underrepresented groups, the entire Las Vegas community loses.