Women’s studies name change would not affect classes

Amy Horst

Faculty and graduate students in the women’s studies department are considering changing the department’s name.

The idea has been around the department for about five years, department chairwoman Amy Kaminsky said. She said she held an informal meeting Monday to get a better idea of what people in the department think of a name change.

If the department does get a different name, Kaminsky said, it would not affect the types of classes currently offered.

“If we change the name, it will be because what we’re already doing is broader than the name seems to indicate,” Kaminsky said.

However, she said the department will probably not change its name.

Kaminsky said there were a number of suggestions for new department names at the meeting, such as women’s and gender studies, and women, gender and sexuality.

Naomi Scheman, a women’s studies professor, said she sees advantages and disadvantages to changing the department’s name because the field of women’s studies has changed a great deal since the department first began.

“It becomes a question of how do you accurately describe yourself in the present, and look ahead to the future while honoring the past,” Scheman said.

Kaminsky said the department will meet with undergraduate students through the year to learn what they think about a name change. Then officials will meet with any students and faculty interested in voicing their opinions.

The communication studies department took about one year to decide to change its name and to get the change implemented, said Ed Schiappa, a department professor who helped organize its name change.

If the women’s studies department decides to change its name, it will need approval from the College of Liberal Arts and the Board of Regents.