Queer studies minor may be offered next fall

Tiffany Kelly

Queer studies may be offered as a minor during the fall 2008 semester after being approved last spring by the College of Humanities. It’s currently awaiting acceptance by the Educational Policy Committee.

“We’re not anticipating problems,” said Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Sex and Gender Research Jacob Hale.

The committee will not know whether the minor will be approved by the EPC until the spring. However, their 18-unit curriculum is not expected to fail.

Elizabeth Say, dean of the College of Humanities, formed a committee of professors from different subjects to develop the minor last year, which consists of Sheena Malhotra (Women’s Studies), Gina Masequesmay (Asian American Studies), Leilani Hall (English), Ian Bernard (English), Jacob Hale (Philosophy), Ramon Garcia (Chicano/a Studies) and Elizabeth Adams (Liberal Studies).

Hale said the committee members, who have worked with queer studies-related topics in their teachings, have worked a long time to come up with a minor that’ll fit the expectations of the EPC and the school. They’d be interested in teaching the proposed courses as well, he said.

Some may have inquiries or concerns about the name of the major, “Queer Studies,” Masequesmay said.

The name “queer” will remind people of the famed activist line from the 1990s: “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!”

This is some of the attraction of the name: picking one that is representative of the courses, yet not hidden behind a long abbreviation, like LGBT, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Studies, Masequesmay said.

“There’s not a perfect name,” Hale said.

The 18-unit minor would consist of nine required units and nine electives. Required courses would be upper-division. The last course would be an independent study senior project in which students would go in a direction they themselves would choose, showing what they have learned from the previous courses in the minor, Masequesmay said.

If the EPC accepts CSUN’s proposal of the queer studies minor, it’ll be advertised in the spring. There may be a launch party to get students interested in the minor before it would become available in the fall of 2008, Hale said.

The queer studies minor is being proposed because it’s the right time to have it, Masequesmay said. Tolerance is for people accepting different genders into their community, she said.

A main goal of this minor is to guide students toward being “more sensitive and inclusive” to those of different genders, Masequesmay said. “People just assume everyone is straight.”

“Hopefully, this will deconstruct stereotypes,” Masequesmay said. It’ll also allow students to “question the regime of heterosexuality,” she added.

Some of the courses in the minor are general education classes, making it easier for students to test out a new subject while also fulfilling their basic requirements for graduation.

“A decade ago, we were the campus to go to for LGBT resources,” Masequesmay said.

Currently, CSUN offers the “Ally” program to LGBT students, yet not many students are aware of it, she said. Many faculty members display “Ally” stickers to show they support and offer advice to students of all genders.

The queer studies minor is “for anyone who wants to work with a queer population and be knowledgeable,” Masequesmay said.

Future educators would benefit from taking courses offered for the minor, Hale said.

“Teachers assume kids are straight,” he said. “This sets up a system of exclusion.”

“If a teacher has a background in queer studies, this would allow them to treat students fairly and reach out to every type of gender,” Hale said.

“It’s important to know about who they’ll be serving,” said Masequesmay on the importance of future teachers taking courses in the queer studies minor.

Though future educators would benefit a lot from taking these courses, students of other majors agree on the importance of learning about different cultures and genders.

People need to be educated about this topic, said Sabrina Dominguez, a 21-year-old nutrition major.

“It’d be interesting to take the courses even if you’re straight,” she added. “It’s a topic that doesn’t get explored that much.”

Other students are also open and interested in these possible new courses.

“I think it’d be good for the university to promote such diversity,” said Matthew Siegrist, a 22-year-old business law major.

The queer studies minor is a “good thing for everybody no matter what sexuality,” Hale said. “It’ll allow students to relate to people outside of the university.”

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