A good start to the day, some welcome news in today’s Times:
Hundreds of students and academics from around the world have expressed outrage after St Andrews University refused to renew the contract of the only female professor at its Institute for Gender Studies.
More than 1,000 students and academics have signed a petition condemning the decision by St Andrews to part company with Alison Kerr. They say that Kerr, an American philosopher who is director of the institute, is crucial to the department and its credibility. [J4MB: Credibility?!!!]
The course will now be taught by two men who, critics say, do not have a background in the subject.
The campaign, Stand with Alison, has attracted support from academics worldwide. Elinor Mason, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said: “I want to stress how valuable this programme is, [J4MB: For otherwise unemployable feminists, anyway) and what a shame it would be to squander all the work that Kerr has put into it.”
Andrea Peto, from Central European University in Budapest, said: “Gender studies is under attack globally. [J4MB: If only…] Very sad that this is also happening at University of St Andrews. Maybe it is not too late to change this decision.”
Professor Kirstein Rummery, from the University of Stirling, said: “At a time when gender studies and interdisciplinary feminist scholarship are badly needed, [J4MB: Along with Tooth Fairy Studies] growing in popularity and under epistemic attack, this seems a questionable decision from a prestigious institution that should be leading the way.”
A spokesman for the university did not discuss the specifics of Kerr’s case, which is subject to an appeals process, but he said: “We are aware of various communications circulating about this case, including an open letter. There are several fundamental misrepresentations in these communications. The impression given is both misleading and unfairly damaging to the university and to other respected academic members of staff.
“The MLitt was never set up to be operated by a single person. The long-term plan was always that a cohort of suitably qualified individuals would teach and direct the programme.”
He added: “The colleagues teaching on and directing the MLitt programme currently are suitably qualified to do so, and have taken over at extremely short notice.”
In a statement Kerr said: “The decision by the university to end my contract and put the entire gender studies programming at risk is a slap in the face for all of us who took them seriously when they promised to promote diversity among staff and the curriculum they deliver.” [J4MB: But it’s GREAT news for normal people i.e. non-feminists]
Kerr added: “I perceived St Andrews as a safe place for gender studies students and research on gender. In talking with various colleagues who work on gender studies around the world I am reminded of the threat that keeps rising for research in this area, despite the fact that it is a field that clearly yields substantial income. [J4MB: For otherwise unemplyable feminists, anyway] This type of exploitation has struck a nerve with many.”
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