Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 1, Issue 2
Spring 2011
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editor, John-Albert Moseley
Layout Design: Nick Appleby

Inderpal Grewal Dear Yale-WGSS community,

This has been a tumultuous spring and winter with unexpected political unrest in so many parts of the world. As you may have seen on TV, Egyptian women of many social classes and communities joined in protests against the long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. While many news reports mentioned with surprise that so many different groups of women were so politically active, feminist scholars pointed out that they were building on a history in which Egyptian women have long participated in national struggles. Closer home, in Wisconsin, we hear from our colleagues of attacks on unions and on professors for speaking out in support of unions. All in all, the world has been in turmoil, and we and other Yale faculty and speakers have been doing our best to discuss these issues in classrooms and special events.

Of course what is also on our minds this week is the recent complaint filed with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights against Yale by students and alumni who charge that Yale's response to the DKE incident (which I mentioned in the Fall Newsletter) and to incidents in prior years has been inadequate in preventing a "hostile climate" against women on campus. There is no denying that there are problems here, as on most campuses. The university has been aware of this and was in the process of overhauling and consolidating mechanisms for dealing with the problems. Last year, the Women's Faculty Forum, with WGSS professor Laura Wexler as one of its co-directors, helped in producing a report that provided a revised framework for dealing with issues of sexual harassment. A task force was appointed by the Provost to make recommendations to incorporate Sexual Misconduct Education into various levels of student and community education at Yale. Yet it is clear that more work needs to be done, so that our students feel that Yale is a safe place for them. And, not surprisingly, WGSS faculty and WGSS majors have been at the heart of this work.

This complaint also demonstrates how important it is for a university to have a vibrant WGSS program; not only can our classes help in educating students regarding sexual misconduct and the production and creation of social inequalities that lead to such behavior, but also in understanding the many issues, interests and problems involved in creating policy. We are all figuring out how communities struggle against this and other manifestations of social injustice. But we take great pride in the fact that our students dare to speak out against such incidents as well as participate in creating solutions. Moreover, many students and members of the community are united in thinking that such acts must not be supported or excused in any way. They are willing to speak out against intolerance and bigotry on campus, whether it is based on race, or gender or sexuality or religion.

Despite all these difficult issues, there is also good news. Our classes are going well and we are delighted to find that this year we have a number of sophomores signed up for our major – for which many thanks go to our instructors, staff, and our DUS, Melanie Boyd, who have been indefatigable in recruiting and retaining majors! However, our expansion is not only in majors. Our search for another full-time, tenure-track, faculty person in LGBT research was successful in finding a wonderful scholar, Joseph Fischel, who is completing his dissertation in Political Science at the University of Chicago. Joe will join us at Yale in July 2012; this fall he heads to a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University. In this coming year, Liz Montegary, who is completing her Ph.D in Cultural Studies at the University of California, Davis, will join our teaching staff. Liz will be teaching some innovative courses on travel, mobility, militarism, masculinity and of course, our excellent Introduction to LGBT studies course.

Even though we remain pretty busy during the semester, we always have time to meet our alums and to hear from them. Although I am relatively new to Yale, one of the great pleasures of being here has been to hear about the WGSS (or WS) majors as they pursue all kinds of different and interesting paths in life and careers. We want to keep hearing from you and hope to be connected to you. If you have a minute, do write to us.

Have a great spring and summer,

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Chair, WGSS

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