I spent my undergraduate time here at BYU, and now will spend two more years as a graduate student. I am saddened by the decision to dissolve the Women's Research Institute, but feel like it is up to us to continue the types of conversations and involvement that took place because of the WRI. As women, we communicate through collaboration and interaction with one another. I have relied on the WRI as a tangible place for conversation, sisterhood and deliberate and productive grappling with real women's issues. Although I believe that the University has our best interest in mind and have gone to great lengths to make this decision, I am disheartened to find that as women, we have temporarily lost a tangible place and setting in which we can meet together. I am not a women's studies minor, and as a graduate student do not have the time or means to apply to research grants in women's studies research and projects and so I think we need to make special efforts to make sure that these issues and conversations are still brought to the forefront of conversations in all disciplines and situations. I have been greatly blessed, educated, and introduced to many influential friends, women and professors through the WRI. As a woman in the LDS church, I have felt liberated and supported because of institutions like the WRI. I think that it is so important to make special efforts to continue conversations and find ways to work together and to continue a place like the WRI where people who aren't doing individual research can still take part in the conversation.

1 comment:

MaryAnne said...

I have heard a lot about the dissolution of the WRI. I want to say upfront that I worked on the Women's Stats project and loved it. I think having women's research that is done from a gospel perspective is hugely important. I know that there have been several protests, but I think people have not quite sought to understand why this happened. While it is true there will not be a center anymore, there will be more funding available (at least three times as much) for studies related to women and women's issues. This will enable more research to occur that will bring a gospel perspective to women's issues across all disciplines. The lack of a center is sad, but freeing up that overhead makes all this new research possible. Additionally, the funding that this dissolution makes possible is likely to create other venues where people can associate and form those lasting, important connections that will allow lifelong dialogue to occur regarding women's issues.

The other way that this change strengthens BYU's commitment to women's research is that it will now ensure that faculty are the ones teaching the courses for the Women's Studies minor. This should increase the rigor and quality of the education received in this minor. The hope is that this will better train people to leave BYU ready to deal with women's issues throughout their lives.

Additionally, I believe that stating on the Support WRI website that this could damage the Church's reputation as a friend to women could be the impetus for people doubting the Church's position regarding women’s issues. Having a website stating that this dissolution might call the Church’s position into question brings that idea to the forefront; whereas, if you let people determine, by the type and quality of research that gets done at BYU, how the Church feels about women, people will be able to see that the Church really does revere women.

That's my two cents for what it's worth.