New women’s studies minor comes to ULV

Discussion of gender and sexuality will soon be more common as the University will kick off its women, gender and sexuality studies minor this fall.

A small group of faculty and students – all women – gathered for a discussion last week to brainstorm ideas about how to introduce and incorporate the new minor.

“We wanted something that was going to be relevant to students today,” said Bailey Smith, director of learning enhancement services and adviser for the WGSS minor.

This minor has been in the works since spring 2003 when the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Committee was first formed.

“Our program is trying to address gender and sexuality,” said Zandra Wagoner, assistant professor of religion and program chairwoman for the WGSS minor. “The hope is that it will engage many students.”

The WGSS minor offers a variety of courses to choose from in anthropology, art, religion, psychology and more sociology courses.

It has one core requirement course, a minimum of eight units of upper-division courses under humanities and fine arts electives and a minimum of eight units under social science electives.

“It will allow (students) to get a deeper understanding of gender and sexuality studies and an academic perspective on those issues,” Smith said.

Students are able to declare this minor at any time.

If many students show an interest, the minor could possibly become a major as soon as next year.

“Our hope is that we can start with a minor, see what the students interest is and with that interest build the support and funding for a major,” Wagoner said.

Some ULV faculty members have already begun to incorporate the subject of gender and sexuality into their classroom because they believe it is very important.

“It can enrich any field of study,” Wagoner said. “If there are students who are interested, we would love to hear from them.”

The group brought up the concept of the word “feminism” and the fact that the word has some baggage.

They don’t want it to be a derogatory word or meaning, but rather something that can be talked about and brought up for discussion.

“I think this minor will help them explore who they are and realize that being feminine doesn’t mean you cannot be a feminist,” said Irene Beltran, a senior Spanish major.

The WGSS program should help students reflect upon and explore their ideas, as well as objective notions of gender and sexuality.

Some juniors and seniors feel the WGSS program should have been introduced earlier so they could have had the opportunity to have minored in it.

“Every person should be required to take a gender and sexuality course, including males,” Beltran said.

“I think it would be beneficial on our campus because we have a high population of women.”

“I want to encourage students to try it,” Smith said. “If they get hooked, it will be a great minor.”

The committee is preparing to promote the women, gender and sexuality studies minor through program brochures, a Web site and through the fall 2007 catalog.

“If a student came in with a skeptical perspective, they would leave knowing there is value in raising awareness about gender and sexuality,” Wagoner said.

The program might also be interesting to men at ULV, with a masculinity course in development.

This new minor will move the University forward and into the 21st century.

For more information, visit the ULV website and scroll down to Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies under Quick Links, or

Vanessa Avilez can be reached at

Vanessa Avilez
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