Protesters call for new major

Ben Breier

Marching for women’s studies, senior English major Bridgit McCafferty (left), senior architecture major Corey Ringle and sophomore exploratory major Sarah Snyder yell “What do we want? Women’s studies! And when do we want it? Now!” The group of about 12 m

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Roughly a dozen protesters braved the cold weather yesterday afternoon to march on the behalf of instituting a women’s studies major at Kent State.

The march was lead by Martha J. Cutter, associate English professor and member of the women’s studies curriculum committee. Students carried signs with slogans, such as “Bitches unite, this is your fight,” in order to raise awareness for their cause.

“It went relatively well for a first organized protest,” Cutter said. “I should’ve had a megaphone.”

Nicolas Evan Trojack, sophomore integrated mathematics major, was one of three males to attend the protest.

“There’s nothing wrong with being positive toward equality,” Trojack said. “If you’re going to have a Pan-African studies major, why not have a women’s studies major?”

Trojack came with sophomore exploratory major Jewel Schnell, who is currently enrolled in Cutter’s feminist theory class.

“Feminist theory is supposed to be connected to action,” Cutter said, who has been teaching the class for two years. “You’re not supposed to sit around and read theory, you’re supposed to do something with it.”

And at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon, a group of protesters including several members of Cutter’s feminist theory class took action.

The group started protesting at the front of the Student Center. After circling Risman Plaza, they went around the library and continued toward the M.A.C. Center and Bowman Hall.

Although some observers understood the cause, other students were left confused by the point of the protest, such as freshman exploratory major Mike Phillips.

“If they’re going to have a women’s studies major, they should have a men’s studies major as well,” Phillips said. “It seems a little sexist.”

Junior exploratory major Erik Weber said he thinks the protest is about more than the simple fact that Kent State lacks a women’s studies major.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on in the government that nobody pays attention to because nobody gives a crap,” Weber said. “College students are really lax in government attitude and think that everything will go away if they don’t think about it.”

Cutter said a women’s studies major would open up many different career options for those wanting to pursue such a degree. She said students with a degree in women’s studies could get a job with women’s rights organizations such as Planned Parenthood, working in politics for feminist-aligned organizations or teaching women’s studies.

Cutter also said the program would help increase the university’s student retention.

“I’ve had students tell me they’re going to other universities to major in women’s studies,” Cutter said, who said she feels Kent State is not serving the needs of the students by denying them a major in women’s studies.

“This university seems to have a lot of money for things it feels is important, but there is a group of students whose needs aren’t being served,” Cutter said. “They (the university) say ‘Sorry, we don’t have enough money for that.'”

No matter what comes of yesterday’s march, Cutter said she feels good about the progress she has made thus far.

The university could not be reached for comment about the march or the possibility of a women’s studies major.

“Part of the project is learning how to make social change. The outcome is far less important than the learning process,” Cutter said. “Even if Kent State does not turn around and grant us the major, we are still learning from the process.”

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Ben Breier at [email protected]