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Student fight back scores win at Macquarie University: Gender Studies cut reversed

Other course cuts have not been reversed.

Action by Macquarie University Women's Collective.

Gender Studies and the Social Justice major will be saved at Macquarie University after students and staff fought back against proposed changes that included cutting all Arts majors with less than 50 students enrolled.

Other proposed cuts to a number of STEM degrees, such as the Bachelors of Mathematical Sciences, Bachelor of Advanced Science and Master of Biostatistics have not been reversed.

Students and staff received word this afternoon from Professor Martina Mollering, Dean of Arts at Macquarie University, that the “case for exemption” for Gender Studies from the overall cuts had been approved, and that the University Executive is prepared to discuss how the department might extend the reach of the Gender Studies major in order to see an increase in enrollments in the future.

Gender Studies lecturer Dr Rebecca Sheehan, who led the fight alongside Macquarie University’s Women’s Collective, paid tribute in an email to the students who have put together media releases, testimonials and actions over the past week.

“In your actions you have honoured the people who built this field for us. The Macquarie mums who had no childcare and took their kids to lectures with them in the 1960s and coalesced into one of the first women’s groups in the country. The women who made Gender Studies into a program at MQ in 1984. The civil rights, feminist, queer, trans, and intersex activists who fought to make themselves visible and to make our world more just, and without whom there would be no Women’s Studies or Gender Studies.”

Harpreet Dhillon, President of the Women’s Collective and an arts student at Macquarie University has been working on the campaign against these cuts over the past week. 

“Fighting for this program and being able to save it is my gift to future students, to study gender studies and be given the same inspiration, knowledge and influence to shape their life and the lives of others,” she said.

Dr Sheehan noted however, that whilst Gender Studies had been saved, “the fight over other cuts at MQ and the inevitable redundancies continues.”

The situation at Macquarie, much like that of USyd and other universities around Australia, remains uncertain as cuts are proposed, staff enter periods of consultation, and student campaigns escalate and gain more mainstream media attention. 

More to come.