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Gay, lesbian studies planned

Program backers feel lack of University support

 by Sarah Muench
 published on Monday, February 24, 2003

ASU faculty supporting the creation of a gay and lesbian studies certificate are, from left: Dr. Daniel Brouwer, Dr. Amy Lind, Dr. Kathleen Ferraro, Dr. Tom Nakayama, Dr. Frederick Corey, and Dr. Stephanie Brzuzy./issues/campusnews/377117
ASU faculty supporting the creation of a gay and lesbian studies certificate are, from left: Dr. Daniel Brouwer, Dr. Amy Lind, Dr. Kathleen Ferraro, Dr. Tom Nakayama, Dr. Frederick Corey, and Dr. Stephanie Brzuzy.
 

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A coalition of professors is working to convince the University to institute a certificate program in Gay and Lesbian Studies.

If approved, ASU would join the University of California-Los Angeles, Cornell University, the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota in pushing often-neglected issues of sexuality into mainstream academia.

A certificate, slightly less significant than a minor, acts as a supplement to a student's degree, formally recognizing an area of specialization.

The certificate for Gay and Lesbian Studies would require that students take 18 credit hours out of 19 existing ASU sociology, communication, humanities and other such classes.

The classes were selected for their focus on the history, culture and current issues of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people.

"Many students, faculty and staff have wanted to have this kind of program for a long time," said Women's Studies assistant professor Amy Lind.

Lind wrote the proposal for the program and would be the director if it gains approval by ASU's Academic Senate and provost.

Many certificates already offered by the University are "identity based," meaning they explore a certain sub-culture. African American Studies and Asian Pacific American Studies are examples of current certificates available at ASU.

Lind said she believes learning about LGBT is a growing part of American culture.

"Businesses and nonprofits are increasingly interested in students with specializations in lesbian and gay studies ... as they want to reach out to LGBT individuals and communities," Lind said.

The program would fall under the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which has already agreed to accept it.

"We think it's an important area of study and there's a lot of interest among students," said Dan Bivona, assistant dean for academic programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Now approval from the Academic Senate and the provost are all that is needed. Lind and her colleagues are growing skeptical, though, that their proposal will pass.

It has been five months since they submitted their request and they have yet to hear an answer from the University administrators who will make the decision.

Lind, who had hoped to begin the new certificate in the fall, said she feels the University is apprehensive toward implementing the program.

"I view it as institutionalized discrimination - as institutionalized homophobia," Lind said. "It feels like we've been [disrespected] and many people feel that way."

ASU Executive Vice-President and Provost Milton Glick said the provost's office, which ultimately approves all academic programs, has been receiving a growing number of proposals. Glick said all proposals are on hold until the Academic Senate can come up with guidelines for approval.

"There seems to be a whole car-load of them, and at a time with tight budgets we should take an extra careful look," Glick said. "I'm not arguing against this program, but we should assess which [programs] will be valuable to the students of the university."

Glick said he doesn't know how long it will take to produce guidelines for approval.

Reach the reporter at sarah.muench@asu.edu.



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