The elimination of the Women and Education position comes at a time when both Saskatchewan Education and the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation have developed official policies on gender equity which they are presently implementing. The College of Education has an obligation to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills to fulfill what has been mandated by the Ministry and by their professional association, and, indeed, the mission statements of both the College and the University make a commitment to gender equity in their educational programs. Even in the face of cutbacks, the University's Budget Committee has recommended that special resources be allocated to programs that foster equity.
The position also offers a feminist/women's studies focus for graduate study and research. In addition to teaching a graduate class, the term appointee who presently holds the position has served, over the course of a year, on ten committees for theses or projects. That so many students are willing to have a term appointee on their committee indicates both that they are deeply committed to feminist research, and that they are unable to find the expertise among senior and more secure faculty. Graduate students at the College are producing highly creditable and publishable feminist research. However, with the magpie approach to budget cuts being proposed, one of the most attractive and fructuous areas of study within the College of Education will be virtually eliminated.
The "safety net" is illusory. The Women's and Gender Studies department in the College of Arts and Sciences is currently being expanded from one overburdened person to two. Moreover, this department insists that the responsibility for teaching future elementary and secondary teachers and school administrators with respect to issues of gender equity and feminist pedagogy rightfully belongs with the College of Education, not the College of Arts and Sciences. As well, courses in the Women's and Gender Studies Department are not readily accessible to education students for credit in the new program currently being implemented in the College of Education.
Gender equity is one strand of an "equity grid" that new and revamped courses are expected to address ''as much as possible" (the other strands are aboriginal issues, multiculturalism, and exceptionalities). No parameters have been established to indicate what should be included in terms of course content of pedagogy, and without the Women and Education position, there will be no leadership to set those parameters. Gender equity might then be taken to mean whatever Humpty Dumpty says it means at any given historical moment.
Moreover, while some of the new faculty recently hired are sympathetic to feminist inquiry, none identify themselves as feminist scholars capable of teaching a "women and education" course or supervising a Master's thesis in the area of feminist research. It must also be added that some of the most sympathetic of the new faculty have recently resigned.
In the fall of 1993, a group of undergraduate and graduate students at the College of Education, together with supportive faculty and women's groups from across the university, mobilized in an attempt to preserve this position (Preservation of the Women and Education Position, or POWe). One of our committee's goals has been to impress upon senior administrators that the advancement of human knowledge gained as a result of feminist research and scholarship should not be sacrificed to budget cuts made on the basis of expedience.
Over the past year, we have encouraged those concerned with the deletion of this position to write to the president of the university, Dr. George Ivany. As a result, Dr. Ivany has received numerous letters. Please add your voice to the struggle by writing a letter of support which outlines briefly what you see as important reasons for retention of the position. Address it to Dr. George Ivany, President, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada, S7N OWO (c.c. Department Head, Educational Foundations, College of Education).
We deeply appreciate your support.