UNCW ditches 'Women’s Studies' to make way for 'Gender Studies'

In an effort to be more inclusive to "transgender women," the University of North Carolina-Wilmington has changed its Women's Studies center to one for "Gender Studies."

The director says the change "better serves the mission of the center."

Effective Jan. 1, the University of North Carolina-Wilmington renamed its Women’s Studies and Resource Center the Gender Studies and Research Center. The new name came after a unanimous vote by the center’s advisory board in October 2019.

The center was originally designed to “provide students, faculty, staff, and those in the greater Wilmington community with opportunities to experience the diverse facets of women’s lives, hopes and concerns from artistic, historical, and other perspectives” and the mission of the Women’s Studies and Resource Center was to “ …[work] with campus, local, and wider community partners through online teaching, research support, programming, and service activities that further social justice and work to combat social inequality at every level.”

In its announcement of the change, UNCW highlighted center director Dana Stachowiak’s explanation that the change from focusing on “women” to “gender,” in general, “better serves the mission of the center and keeps current with important issues and trends in the larger field of gender studies.”

Stachowiak says this new change will allow “better support” for both “cisgender and transgender women.”

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The newly-named Gender Studies and Research Center has a new mission: “The Gender Studies and Research Center is an interdisciplinary and intersectional community of students, scholars, and advocates committed to social justice and equity. The Center works with community partners to combat social inequality at every level.”

“Dana Stachowiak needs to find more effective things to do with her time,” Stevie Rivenbark, who attended UNCW, told Campus Reform.  “This change will deter students who are not excessively liberal from enrolling in this program and possibly from UNCW altogether, thereby having a potentially negative impact on the entire student body. By creating such an unnecessary change, she is alienating a large group of students in a futile attempt to appease a small group.”

Others support the name change, hoping that it will represent a more inclusive center. 

UNCW student Victoria McBee told Campus Reform that the change is a “positive move.”

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“It seems a lot more inclusive considering it is such a complex subject,” McBee said, adding, “I think most students are aware that we have an amazing LGBTQ+ resource center. I’m sure they play a great part in that.”

The UNCW Women’s Studies and Resource Center hosted a pro-abortion event in 2017 celebrating individuals who performed abortions prior to their legalization, as Campus Reform reported

When asked for comment, UNCW’s media relations specialist pointed Campus Reform to this article and declined further comment.  

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @EmmaSchambach