Threat to cut programs scares students off

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POSTED: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 5:06pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 - 5:08pm

BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) -- The Women's and Gender Studies program has been on the verge of being cut from LSU for the last two years, and now, one day after possible tuition hikes are announced by Governor Bobby Jindal, the degree program is up for review again. One professor says the constant threat of shutting down is keeping that program from growing.

Women's and Gender Studies has been a degree program at LSU for about five years. It's considered a work in progress. "Programs don't build quickly," says professor Michelle Masse. She says progress has been even slower because of the Board of Regents' strict reviews.

"These policies play peek-a-boo with out students," she says.

In the last two years, the degree program has been up for review five times. Now, the Board of Regents has included the program again in its call to consolidate, even after they just approved it for another three years in August.

"It's out of the blue," says Masse. "In fact, the university itself didn't even realize that we were under review again because we had just gotten an appeal."

Women's and Gender Studies has been a growing major. Masse says most students double major in the program, and employers look upon the degree highly. "There's no field where bringing this to your workplace isn't an asset," says Masse.

However, everytime the state suggests cutting the program, students become hesitant to declare it as a major. "As they understand, the program is gone, or it's a sinking ship," says Masse.

She says some students have transferred out of the program, and in some cases, the entire university to find another that offers the degree. "Our world is getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller at LSU. We want to say for our students, for our state, the world should be opening out."

If the degree program gets cut, all of the classes would still be available at LSU. It would become a concentration under the Bachelor of Arts and Liberal Arts, but that means it wouldn't show up on a diploma. "Our requirements would be the same. Our courses will be the same. Our faculty will be the same," says Masse. "I have to question then, what exactly is achieved?"

Masse says cutting Women's and Gender Studies won't save the state any money. Instead, she thinks it will be a bad decision. "We lose our reputation as a university. Louisiana gets smeared as a state. Nobody's walking away with a bucket of money to put elsewhere."

The Board of Regents announced the possible termination of more than 450 programs at colleges across the state with low-completion rates last week. Women's and Gender studies only has about seven students, on average, graduate from the program each year, but Masse expects that number to grow if given the chance.

She plans to appeal the cuts to keep the program alive.

You can see the full list of programs up for review below.

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