The Board of Trustees at New College of Florida was right to eliminate the school’s “gender studies” program because it teaches misleading ideology rather than reality and careful scholarship.
“Predictable accusations have greeted the announcement by Manhattan Institute fellow Chris Rufo, trustee of the New College of Florida, that the college is abolishing its gender studies program,” writer and retired English Professor Janice Fiamengo wrote Monday in The Spectator Australia.
Rufo wrote August in City Journal about the university’s board of trustees’ move to “abolish the university’s gender studies program, becoming the first public university in America to begin rolling back the encroachment of gender ideology and queer theory on its academic offerings.”
Fiamengo (pictured) wrote that in response to the abolition, the school’s only full-time gender studies professor, Nicholas Clarkson, publicly announced his resignation from the school and condemned Florida’s academic culture.
“Now Florida is the state where education goes to die,” Clarkson wrote in his Aug. 17 resignation letter.
“Eliminating gender studies is a reactionary attempt to prevent cultural shifts that scare you,” Clarkson continued.
However, Fiamengo noted that it is business as usual for college programs to be sized down or dismantled.
Fiamengo “was often saddened to see traditional programs diluted of content and rigour in the name of (alleged) relevance or faculty/student interest,” she wrote, citing the classics department’s merger with religious studies at the University of Ottawa.
However, unlike classics or history, gender studies does not rely on a tradition of books that can be analyzed and questioned by skilled students and scholars.
“Try standing up in a gender studies course to argue that we do not live in a rape culture, and see how many instructors applaud your critical thinking,” according to Fiamengo. She continued:
A liberal arts education, by contrast, encourages questioning because it pushes no specific iron-law ideology; rather, it examines ‘the best that has been thought and said’, as Matthew Arnold put it, and draws rich content from the greatest thinkers in history.
Unlike the fly-by-night trendiness of gender ideology, a classically liberal education is founded on the tradition of Great Books – from the ancient Greeks to the Founding Fathers, from (in the English literary tradition) Beowulf to Virginia Woolf.
Long-standing classics of philosophy, art, literature, and political thought are taught, as much as possible, without ideological distortion, presented in their particular contexts and carefully read (not blithely dismissed or acclaimed) so that students can grasp their enduring significance. Once their meaning is grasped, students are encouraged to question, judge, compare, and criticise.
Gender studies has never done anything like this. It has been judged from the beginning in ignorance and rage, without proportion and without rational argument or sound evidence. It has pushed lies as truth … denying biology and history.
With an indoctrination into gender studies, rather than an education in core liberal arts disciplines like history and philosophy, students “learn almost nothing of substance except to hate their society and to embrace the utopian necessity of its destruction,” she wrote.