Wyoming Senate votes to stop funding gender studies department at state university

The Wyoming State Senate has recently passed a new budget amendment which would effectively end the funding of the gender studies program at the University of Wyoming.

One student referred to the department as a program that ‘teaches students what to think.’

The Wyoming State Senate voted to pass a budget amendment that would end funding for the University of Wyoming’s (UWYO) gender & women’s studies department.

The senators who voted to halt funding stated that the department produced a “biased” view of education, with some arguing that the program held no academic legitimacy, the Washington Examiner reports. 

The amendment, brought forward by State Senator Cheri Steinmetz (R), passed 16-14 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate on Feb. 25.

“I just have to ask you, what are we doing here at the University of Wyoming with these courses?” Steinmetz reportedly asked her fellow senators, after criticizing the program’s goals as being linked to “service and activism.” 

Chad Baldwin, associate vice president for marketing and communications at UWYO, told Campus Reform that the Wyoming legislature “as a whole” has yet to take action on the situation. 

“We are optimistic the amendment will not be in the final budget approved by the Legislature,” Baldwin said. 

Currently, UWYO offers students the option of adopting a major or a minor in gender & women’s studies.

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Opinions on the call to stop funding the gender studies program vary amongst UWYO students.

Student Bridger Sparks told Campus Reform that he believes Wyoming is much more than “cows” and “cowboys,” insisting that the university needs a gender studies program.

“The gender studies allows individuals to succeed in a workplace because of the understanding and history of all individuals—it helps you to fully not only accept but embrace diversity. The program funding should be continued through the state,” Sparks said.

Meanwhile, Connor Kasarda, another student at UWYO, told Campus Reform that if there were to be a gender studies program at the university, it should be funded by the people who wish to take the classes the program has to offer.

Student Tyler James asserted that UWYO should not have a gender studies program that “teaches students what to think.”

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James told Campus Reform that he believes the gender studies program is promoting “activism.”

A statement on the department’s website states, “Misinformation about Gender & Women’s Studies at UW has been a tool of the legislative action.”

“Senators supporting this amendment stated that removing our program would impact only five students. This is a gross misrepresentation. Gender and Women’s Studies has graduated 81 students in the last 5 years, and our courses (including cross-listed sections) enroll over 500 students per semester,” the department’s webpage reads. 

The legislation will now go to the Wyoming House of Representatives.

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