BYU has chosen to discontinue its Women’s Research Institute (WRI) in an effort to expand resources for and encourage participation in women’s studies.
No doubt many are wondering how discarding the sole campus entity dedicated to women’s research will facilitate this lofty objective.
“This reorganization acknowledges the fact that women’s studies at BYU and elsewhere is mainstreamed into the academic disciplines,” said John S. Tanner, BYU academic vice president.
In BYU’s attempts to go mainstream, they probably should have considered the implications of this decision and how it might affect LDS women who would like to believe that women’s issues are a priority on campus. The reorganization of women’s studies will add further fuel to the fire regarding beliefs of existing gender inequality within the LDS religion.
The proposed reorganization, to be implemented in January 2010, has reassigned the current director of WRI to the Psychology Department, while the Women’s Studies Minor will continue through the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.
“The reorganization more than triples the amount of discretionary money available across campus for women’s research,” Tanner said.
The claim that all WRI associated funding will continue to be thus distributed is reassuring, but one must wonder whether included in this “tripled amount” is the new Emmeline B. Wells Grant money which will offer $25,000 for annual faculty research with additional $5,000 grants being allocated for women’s studies research specifically.
It seems as though this funding would not disappear if the WRI were to remain operative.
A petition has thus been created by concerned BYU students, friends and donors in an effort to compromise the reorganization process and its outcome.
They propose that the WRI be eliminated, but that a Women’s Research Council (WRC) made up of faculty from each college and students involved in women’s studies, take its vacant place.
They also suggest that the WRC be in control of the all funds affiliated with the former WRI in order to assist students, bring in relevant speakers, and facilitate women’s research domestically and internationally.
For more information regarding this issue and to sign the petition to preserve women’s research at BYU, visit www.supportWRI.org.