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March 30, 2009 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Gender Studies continues getting lesson in agenda studies

The Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) department is still getting the run around by the university, with staff and students saying enough is now enough.

Recent correspondence between concerned GWS post graduate students and Victoria University of Wellington has resulted in no change to their “bloody stupid” situation.

Salient has obtained an email sent by PhD Candidate Lesley Wright outlining many post graduate concerns, as well as the reply she received back from Laurie Bauer, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Research.

GWS, as part of the College of Education, was recently relocated to the Karori campus, into inadequate “temporary” accommodation, with little or no access to research equipment, other students and faculty members. Further in the name of cost-cutting, there has been a serious reduction of staffing numbers, with the retention of only one full-time senior lecturer, no tutors or administration staff.

In the email, Wright says there is “a high degree of outrage among the faculty and students,” as they continue to come up against a brick wall. Not only has the GWS department been relegated to “an intellectual ‘solitary confinement’,” they are currently being housed in a prefab building until their more permanent home is finished, a building Wright notes is not conducive to productive postgraduate work.

Bauer defends this decision, saying the Karori campus gives students “appropriate space for eight students in the prefab, while there was only space in the Kelburn accommodation for two desks,” while the prefab itself is a temporary measure until “later this trimester.”

Wright says this situation is a breach of the agreement between the University and its post-grads, as they are entitled “as a minimum” of basic facilities, including a toilet and kitchen.

Wright raises further concern about the student services available at Karori. “Not many of us are willing to wander around a locked down unsecure campus [at night] and to sit in a pre-fab alone while we work.”

Bauer agrees there are still some issues to work through, but says the shift for GWS is simply part of the university managing its current “accommodation crisis.”

Former GWS assistant lecturer and current VUWSA President, Jasmine Freemantle, says this is simply shafting GWS, which is outrageous, especially when you examine the number of enrolments the department was attracting. “We had 12 PhDs last year, and the entire Law Faculty only had one.”

Wright has called the road blocking “uncalled for, destabilising and discriminatory,” with the University “certainly sending us message—we don’t want you.”


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  1. Kerry says:

    You should try asking the Faculty what happened to the submissions made last year – to which none of the submitters received responses, apart from acknowledgement of receipt. Or the convenor of the decision panel, Karen McEwen; PVC Equity, Prof Deborah Willis; VC Prof Pat Walsh; all of whom were pivotal in the decision made by VUW council in second trimester, 2008.

    The process governing the changes proposed for Faculty of Education, including School of Gender & Women’s Studies, was flawed, and biased, with no account taken of major problems discussed by current and past post-graduate students, and academic staff. Undergraduate students also made submissions, and were completely ignored as well.

    This shows institutional bias reaching down from VUW Councilors such as Ian McKinnon, who have stated that they are anathemic to the continuance of Gender and Womens’ Studies as an academic discipline for many decades; Phillida Bunkle had to deal with this repeatedly through the ’90’s, as have the current senior staff.

    The acquisition of the College of Education by VUW lead to a situation where another School, predominantly staffed by, and teaching, women, has been attacked. The constant devaluation of women academics on VUW’s several campuses has been part of the on-going skewing of resources from Arts’ Faculties towards the development of Law and Commerce facilities.
    This happened at great cost in the early part of this decade, due to favouritism from then-VC Stuart McCutcheon. His decisions are reflected in the flow-on of constant fee rises, which are necessary to cover the blow-out in infrastructure costs created during the early ’00’s, inherited by the current VC’s and VUW Council.

  2. Tanky says:


  3. the tank says:

    theres a reason why victoria has a v and a v is shaped like a cooter get with the program vuw u are a school of vagina

  4. the tank says:

    a big cuppa cum

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