Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department scholars claim major is relevant, important

The University of Kansas will roll out a new major this fall: human sexuality.

Undergrads who declare it as their major will study in-depth the implications of sexual identity and practices, as well as the intersections of sexuality and contemporary issues, topics ranging from advocacy and assault to gender identity and health, campus officials say.

“I hope that students are able to employ sexuality as another mode of analysis that, along with analyses of race, gender, class and ability lends to a greater understanding and critical engagement with the world around us,” Katie Batza, KU assistant professor of women, gender and sexuality studies, told The College Fix about the new major.

Currently, there are 35 human sexuality minors this semester, according to KU’s women, gender and sexuality studies website. The College Board reports there are 18,872 University of Kansas undergrads—meaning human sexuality minors compose 0.19 percent of the student population.

Despite those stats, the new major is an outgrowth of KU’s Bold Aspirations challenge, a strategic plan that began in 2011 for the entire university. One of the challenge’s goals was to revamp its general education curriculum.

“The cross-cultural and interdisciplinary skills learned through this field of study are designed to find solutions to these vexing social inequalities and meet KU’s Bold Aspiration challenge to ‘make discoveries that enhance the growth and well-being of our KUHSMstate and build health communities,’” said Alesha Doan, chair of women, gender and sexuality studies, in an email to The College Fix.

Criticism of the human sexuality field includes that it’s not a practical major, that there are not enough professional fields to accommodate the major. However, Doan said a variety of careers are available to human sexuality majors once they graduate.

“Students graduating with a bachelor degree in human sexuality will possess the expertise necessary for careers in fields such as sexual and reproductive health, family and youth health/services, and sexual and domestic violence prevention,” Doan said in her email. Additional fields include academia, sex therapy and LGBTQIA awareness advocacy, she said.

The choice to include the major in school curriculum was initiated in part by students. In 2011, a human sexuality minor petitioned that a major in human sexuality be added. In February 2012, a survey was conducted in two courses to determine student support and Doan said the results indicated significant interest.

“Many of our human sexuality minors are eager to switch to a human sexuality major. Moreover, we have fielded multiple inquiries from students interested in pursuing a major in human sexuality,” Doan said in her email.

Courses for the new major are expected to include: gender, sexuality and the law; skin, sex and disease; and history of sexuality.

Batza, who just began teaching at KU last fall, said she is interested in developing a course examining the history and politics of AIDS. Batza also noted that she hopes the major challenges students to examine the intersection of sexuality and contemporary issues.

“My hope is that students on the KU campus continue to think about the ways in which sexuality shapes our individual lives and experiences as well as our society, laws and health,” Batza said in an email to The College Fix.


Doan expressed similar sentiments.

“We hope the overall outcome is that human sexuality majors will emerge from this interdisciplinary and dynamic field of study trained to use gender and sexuality and analytic concepts for understanding human behavior, society, history, literature and the arts in a global, international and cross-cultural environment,” Doan said in her email.

KU is among the few colleges in the country to offer human sexuality as a major, and the only university in the state to do so, campus officials say. The Kansas Board of Regents, a nine-member governing board of Kansas’ six universities, approved the major last summer.

College Fix reporter Diana Stancy is a student at Elon University.

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You’ve heard of the “Greatest Generation?” Contemporary college students may become known as the “Hypersensitive Generation.” (Or, the “Lamest Generation.”)

A new study by Harvard’s Voices of Diversity project discovered that “women and minorities still face prejudice and discrimination,” but usually manifested as “microaggressions.”

But, of course!

Researchers conducted interviews and surveys with students at four colleges and — get this — “students at each school reported instances of discrimination.”

Huff Post College reports:

These are microaggressions — subtle digs and biases — that permeate the culture. They could include something like a man rolling his eyes when a woman speaks, or people not wanting to be in study groups with those of different races.

Students said they also notice that white male students are called on in class more often than other students.

“I have to stop and think sometimes, ‘Are they being racist? Or, is that just how they act? Or, are they just not being friendly because they’re having a bad day?'” Raymond, an African-American respondent, said in the report.

Students often do not want to call people out for microaggressions for fear of losing friends or creating more hostile environments, the report says. Students also don’t always know which institutions at their schools they can report these instances to.

There have been many studies that show this type of everyday discrimination hinders academic performance.

“Can you imagine taking an exam when you’ve got all this turmoil inside?” Caplan said.

The study found that women and minorities are made to feel like they do not belong on the campus — for example, that they only got in thanks to affirmative action. Anthony, an African-American senior at the Ivy university, said he notices “a slight raising of the eyebrows, or eyes following you in the dining hall.”

Women “are made to feel like they do not belong” …? Like, how?  They’ve made up fifty-seven percent of the college population since 2000.

Yet, this is somehow immaterial to study lead author Paula Caplan.

“When you get into one of these high-status universities, and you’re a woman, you are made to feel so lucky to be there,” Caplan said. “But you look around, and guess what? A vast majority of the professors are still men. They’re still white men.”

There’s also a lack of diversity in course materials. Outside of classes about women or different cultures, you’d be hard-pressed to find course materials written by anyone other than white men, respondents in the study said.

“It’s not that there’s anything wrong with what white men say,” Caplan clarified, “but when there’s nothing on the syllabus by anybody who’s in the group you are in — either in race or sex — with that absence, you don’t have role models, you don’t have people who were treated in similar ways.”

Only on an American campus can one feel “out of place” despite being part of the majority — because “someone like you” didn’t author some of your course materials.

The study recommends the establishment of “a mandatory class about the effects of discrimination and stereotyping in its most modern form.”

Why stop there? Why not recommend that there be a proportionate racial/ethnic/gender distribution of faculty, staff, student population and syllabus materials?

Of course, that would mean cutting back on the number of female students on campus. But we all know that would be anathema.

Read the full article.

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The student senate at Ohio University could look more like the parliament in a country coming out of deep ethnic and gender strife, under resolutions that would add new slots for senators from certain communities – notably, “women’s affairs.”

The Post reports that the senate is prepping for spring elections:

As decided by conversation at last week’s meeting, Minority Affairs, International Affairs, LGBTQ and Women’s Affairs commissions will all receive additional senators to better represent their populations on campus, if their respective resolutions are passed.

Minority Affairs, International Affairs and LGBTQ commissions could gain two senators, while Women’s Affairs could gain four, said Caitlyn McDaniel, senate’s vice president.

Each of these commissions could have four voting spots, if approved by the body. The Women’s Affairs commission could have six.

In other words, “women’s affairs” would have three times the representation it currently has. It’s not obvious there’s any parallel commission for “men’s affairs” on the sadly uninformative senate website.

Not just any women, though, McDaniel says:

“We have a lot of women, and we’ve also decided to mandate that in the [women’s commission] 3 of those positions be held by women from minority groups, whether they be women of color, women with disabilities or differing abilities, or women from LGBTQ community.”

Let me suggest they allow for another minority group within the women’s commission: women who object to current feminist obsessions in academia.

Read the Post article.

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Ladies: Be wary if your consort states that he’s a fan of the Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment. For, he might think that it allows him to legally annoy, troll, and intimidate others, especially on the ‘net.

So says Samantha Allen, a doctoral fellow in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. (But of course.)

First (Amendment): This could be a huge warning sign. Trolls cite the First Amendment as frequently as college application essays cite “The Road Not Taken.” They think that it gives them the right to verbally harass, stalk, and threaten whomever they want without any consequences. If your man picks the First Amendment, just ask him to explain what it means. If he thinks it means that “it’s a free country” and “people can say whatever they want,” tell him to go back to the playground he learned his politics from and find a new boyfriend.

In addition, here’s what Allen has to offer up about potential boyfriends and other amendments:

Tenth: Your man is passionate about states’ rights. Racists and homophobes love states’ rights. Be afraid.

Third: If he picks an amendment this useless, you should just dump him anyway even if he’s not a troll.

Second: Run. Seriously, just run! Your man might not be an asshole to people on the Internet because he’s too busy being an open-carrying asshole in real life.

As you might expect, Allen notes that guys who dig the Ninth (abortion rights!) and Eighth (he’s against cruel and unusual punishment!) Amendments are keepers.

Read the full article here.

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IMAGE: Andy Rennie/Flickr

The New Haven Register reports:

Frances Chan says she’s done stuffing her face with ice cream and Cheetos just to make Yale University happy. After months of wrangling, the university finally agrees.

The 20-year-old history major has spent the past few months sparring with Yale’s health center over her low weight. Chan is 5’2” and 92 lbs., and Yale doctors were concerned her health was severely at risk.

She contended that she’s always been very thin, as were her parents and grandparents at her age.

Yet until Friday, Yale had been telling Chan she might be forced to leave school if she didn’t put on some pounds…

Read More.

(Via Drudge)

College Fix Spring 2014 fellow Jose Gonzalez reports for Real Clear Politics on the varied life and upbringing of Iowa GOP Senate hopeful, Joni Ernst:

In 1989, a teenage college student from Iowa completed an agricultural exchange on a family farm in the Soviet state of Ukraine. Not surprisingly, as Joni Ernst retells it, the experience gave her a profound new appreciation for her home country — one that has colored her career choices to this day.

“It was just such a difference between the United States and the opportunity we had and what that family had in Ukraine,” she told RealClearPolitics, citing the farm’s lack of basic utilities such as a telephone and running water. (Residents had to use an outhouse behind the chicken coop, and the family shared a single bicycle in the absence of a car. Farm work was done through manual labor, supported by horses and wagons.) “That made such an impression on me when I came back to the United States and it was a matter of ‘Oh, I love my country.’”

Ernst first expressed that love by joining the Army Reserves and the National Guard, and she hopes to express it further by serving in the U.S. Senate. What makes her ambition especially noteworthy is that, should she win the GOP primary on June 3 and the general election in November, Ernst would become the first woman from Iowa to serve in Congress…

Read the full story at RCP.