(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – When it comes to higher education, do we really know what we’re paying for? Beyond the tales of woe and the “sky is falling” rhetoric, there is much hidden in plain sight.
The Las Vegas Sun today features a commentary by a UNLV professor, Lynn Comella, lamenting the loss of morale associated with the possibility of budget cuts.
I love my job and the life I’ve built for myself in Las Vegas, but it’s hard to remain optimistic when all I’ve known in my four years at UNLV is an academic institution under siege in a state where political leaders place no value on an educated citizenry. Every budget plan offers the same solutions: cuts targeted at the very institutions that should be shaping Nevada’s future.
So what is the cutting-edge study Prof. Comella engages in that is shaping our young adults’ futures and preparing them for the high-tech jobs of the 21st century?
Her research and teaching interests include media and popular culture, gender and consumer culture, sexuality studies, and ethnographic research… She is presently completing a book on the history and retail culture of feminist sex toy stores and the growth of the women’s sex toy market in the United States.
How ironic that they chose this particular professor to write about the perils of cutting education. This is precisely the type of frivolous education spending that should be first on the chopping block – in fact, should never have been funded in the first place. With nearly 200,000 Nevadans out of work and businesses closing their doors every day it is absolutely insane that the taxpayers of this state should be forced to dig deeper into their pockets to subsidize the study of sex toys.
In fact, terminating the entire Women’s Studies Department would actually improve the university’s ability to serve as an economic driver. To save some cuts to engineering and science and business programs, UNLV could benefit by eliminating the Women’s Studies Department. A look at the research and teaching foci of its faculty reveals that, far from grooming the innovation leaders of tomorrow, it is busy preparing little more than the next generation of Women’s Studies professors and Code Pink protesters.
feminist political economy, economic methodology (ontology), postcolonial thought and economics…simultaneity of gender, race, and class in women’s lives…the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the experiences of Chicanas/Latinas and other women of color, especially as it relates to feminist and Queer activism, social movements, and social justice education…the activism of women in environmental justice movements around the world…using quilting to understand the changes in women’s lives after World War II…writing anti-hegemonic standpoints…perceptions of academic ability based on racial hierarchies, forms of capital in American education, the dynamics of power in socially constructed meritocracies
Most of these descriptions are fairly fancy ways of blaming Western Civilization and American society for past and current ills through their exploitation and oppression. Except for the quilting (quilting?). The very same taxpayers who fund these programs are quite often held up as examples of the unfairness of our society, of our economic and political systems.
If we truly want our universities to be economic drivers, they need to shed programs that do not provide students with the skills necessary to create the compete in the 21st century. The Women’s Studies department is one example.
I sincerely wish all of the faculty luck in finding philanthropists and well-endowed (no pun intended) private universities to fund their study. But the taxpayers of the state of Nevada should not be forced to subsidize them.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)