Changing times brings new Queer Studies minor

CSUN is making additions to the academic curriculum to reflect the changing times. The College of Humanities introduced the Queer Studies Program as a new minor beginning this semester.

‘The purpose of the Queer Studies Program is to allow students to learn about Queer Studies as both a field of study and as a community,’ said Sheena Malhotra, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and coordinator and adviser for the Queer Studies Program.

‘Its objective is to explore issues of gender and sexuality, asking questions such as what are the norms of gender and how do they function within society.’

Implementing the Queer Studies Minor as one of CSUN’S areas of study was a two year, three step process.

First, Dean Elizabeth Say from the College of Humanities had to form a committee to design the minor and come up with a title for it. Designing the minor involved researching other programs that were already in place and trying to focus on the particular need of the CSUN students in order to provide a minor that was responsive to the needs of the campus.

The second step involved preparing and submitting the paperwork for the overall minor and the wide range of classes that would be involved with the minor.

Finally, the paperwork was presented to the Academic Council of the College. Once it underwent the council’s examination, it went on to the Educational Policy Committee. When the paperwork gained the committee’s approval, Queer Studies officially became a minor.

‘The time was right, there was interest and momentum, the minor had excellent support,’ said Malhotra.

The minor is comprised of 18 units, three core courses with three Queer Studies course electives.

The core courses teach students current theories and histories as well as provides students with a broad understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, and queer communities.

Designed as a flexible minor, students can choose from a variety of electives including 455 Asian American Sexuality. Students who have an interest in English can take courses such as 368 Gay Male Writers or 369 Lesbian Writers. Even if you’re not planning to minor in Queer Studies, students can take this course as an upper division elective.

Students who participate in the program are expected to explore and value the diversity among cultures, perspectives and gender. They are taught to think critically and analyze multiple dimensions of human identity.

The minor offers one course this semester QS 301, Perspectives in Queer Studies, taught by Dr. Gina Masequesmay, an Associate Professor in the Asian American Studies Department.

‘Anyone interested in Queer Studies should take 301 because it gives students an overview of the field and introduces them to all that they could learn,’ said Eric Koller, a 21-year-old Language and Culture major and vice-president of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance club at CSUN.

LGBTA is an organization where students can find a safe and nonjudgmental atmosphere and dedicate themselves to the political, cultural, educational, and social advancement of campus life.

‘We support everyone on the CSUN campus,’ said Koller. ‘We make sure students have a supportive community to complete any goals that they have at CSUN.’

Oscar Ayala a 25-year-old CSUN alumni said he joined because he was interested in learning about issues in the queer community and wanted to show support by helping bridge the gap between people of different backgrounds.

Malhotra believes educating students in Queer Studies better prepares them to work in a diverse workforce whether they choose a career in social work, human resource or corporate work.

With the addition of the Queer Studies Minor, the CSUN campus is a pioneer in preparing students for the diversity that surrounds them.