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Colgate U. adds ‘gender’ to women’s studies name to be more ‘holistic’

‘We no longer think of “women” as narrow, biological category,’ professor says

Colgate University just unveiled a new name for its women’s studies program, one that faculty members say will be more “inclusive” and “holistic.”

The program is now “Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies” at the private New York university, and students can earn a major or a minor in the subject.

The university announced the change last month after nearly a decade of debating it, The Colgate Maroon-News reports. Colgate began its women’s studies program in the 1980s.

Professor Hélène Julien, who teaches in the program, told the student newspaper the new name is more “inclusive” of people’s identities.

“It reflects an evolution of thought and understanding moving away from essentialist ideas. We no longer think of ‘women’ as a narrow, biological category but understand it as a social category, inseparable from those of gender and sexuality …” Julien said.

What’s more, “including sexuality as a critical category reflects a challenge to compulsory heterosexuality that is central to a challenge to patriarchy and the binaries within which it operates,” the professor told the newspaper.

Another professor in the program, Meika Loe told The Maroon-News students and faculty worked together to institute the name change based on their values and goals.

“We have been discussing the name change for over a decade, as it more holistically represents what our discipline is about,” Loe said. “Our students are very clear that this name change is important to them. They feel seen by this change and validated in their studies.”

Through the program, students “explore evolving definitions of gender and feminism” and “reflect on knowledge production within different and oftentimes unrecognized systems of oppression,” according to its website.

The change is not unique to Colgate.

Other schools have removed the word “women” entirely from program names in what they say is an effort to promote “diversity.” These include changing the name of the Women’s Clinic at the Pat Walker Health Center at the University of Arkansas to the GYN Clinic, The College Fix reported.

MORE: Cambridge University dictionary changes entries for ‘man,’ ‘woman’

IMAGE: Colgate University Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.