On Friday, the Wyoming Senate passed an amendment to the state budget that would defund the University of Wyoming’s Gender and Women’s Studies program. The amendment will be sent to the Wyoming House for approval.
The Gender and Women’s Studies page for the university states:
A minor or degree in Gender & Women’s Studies or Queer Studies will arm you with critical thinking and applied skills that will enable you to succeed in diverse, 21st century work forces and communities. You will learn how to analyze socio-historical and contemporary power dynamics across rural, local, community, transnational, and global contexts, articulate the history, strategies, and goals of interconnected movements for social justice, perform and develop intersectional, interdisciplinary feminist and queer analysis.
Republican state Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, who was responsible for the amendment, told the Senate on Friday:
Fellow senators, this just says that we are not going to expend any funds at the University of Wyoming under the control of the university for any gender studies courses, academic programs, or co-curricular programs or extracurricular programs.
As we were doing work with the Appropriations Committee this year we kind of took a deep dive into some of the programs at the University of Wyoming due to some other issues that happened at the law school. And so we’ve had some meetings, and as we were doing that, I started looking at their courses and their studies. I was surprised to find this one, to be quite honest with you.
You have a handout at your desk, and it’s one that has caused me to lose some sleep, because as being the folks that deal with the public funds going to this university, I felt that this was one that our constituents, I know certainly mine, wouldn’t agree with, and I would challenge any of you to take this course home and ask their constituents what they think of it.
After reading some literature accompanying a course, she continued, “And so, fellow senators I just have to ask you, what are we doing here at the University of Wyoming with these courses? I would ask for your favorable consideration to direct our funds in a more appropriate manner for taxpayer dollars, and ask for your favorable consideration just vote your conscience on this one, because my conscience won’t let me sleep without addressing it here in this body today.”
GOP Senate Education Committee Chairman state Sen. Charles Scott added, “This is an extremely biased, ideologically driven program that I can’t see any academic legitimacy to. I think we’ll hear complaints about how we’re interfering in the internals of the university, but I think what we’re really doing is sending them a message that they need to clean up their act in terms of the quality of the instruction that’s being given.”