Ashley Lebesco is a senior history major. This is an op-ed submission and does not reflect the views of The Temple News.
I am a feminist. For a long time, I did not know this part of myself, and for a shorter time, I would not admit it openly. As a history major and women’s studies minor, I often joke with people that admitting you are a feminist today is at times akin to admitting you were a communist during McCarthyism.
Feminism is not even accepted as a necessary social movement by some people, so admitting you have become so involved with the movement that you identify yourself by it, quite frankly, befuddles people.
People become even more befuddled when I tell them I am a women’s studies minor. Many people question me, “What could you possibly do with that?”
After all, it is not a core program that is offered at other colleges and does not have as many students enrolled compared to other majors, such as business or criminal justice.
Even with all of this reasoning for the collapse, the women’s studies program is crucial to the diverse liberal arts education that Temple prides itself on.
When I first started my pursuit in higher education four years ago, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. By luck or by fate, I ended up in an Intro to Women’s Studies course.
The way that I viewed the world was forever changed.
I cannot explain everything that I have learned and discovered since that first class, but let me attempt to convey to you how much I have changed for the better because of the classes I’ve taken.
For current women’s studies majors and minors, all of the logistics of the program will stay the same, such as requirements, degrees and advisers. However, we will no longer have a home.
The program will be included in the sociology department. Space is crucial in being recognized as a legitimate academic discipline. Having an official space where we can all congregate and feel like we belong is imperative in maintaining our academic community.
Symbolically, the women’s studies community is being splintered apart. Without a director as representation, we are figuratively less important than other academic disciplines. By not being recognized as a separate program, we are left to feel like our classes are not encompassing enough to be recognized as a separate entity.
Let me assure you that women’s studies is an encompassing, diverse, challenging and a life changing program that has affected me for the better.
Many believe the goal of college is simply to obtain your degree and get a high-paying job. For me, college is about expanding myself as a human being, and feminism has been the tool I have used to accomplish that goal.
I no longer look at people and see them for their gender, race, nationality, sexuality, religion or ethnicity. Feminism has enabled me to look past the outside categories that everyone is forced to learn growing up in this society, and I actually see people now for who they really are.
I no longer “tolerate” people. I accept them, and furthermore, appreciate them for all of their differences and similarities.
Feminism has enabled me to become more vested in this world, and therefore, more charitable. I care about this world, and I actively want to improve it. This has resulted in me donating to more charities and keeping myself more informed on current events in the world.
Every day when I wake up now, I want to challenge myself to be a better person than the day before when I went to bed.
What worries me about this recent women’s studies program cut is that future students of Temple will never have the opportunity to reap the benefits of feminism that I have.
I am a feminist. I am a GLBT ally. I am an advocate for reproductive rights. I am pro-choice. I am seeking to destroy the rape culture we live in. I am comfortable and unapologetic about my sexual desires. I am working to move beyond any pre-conceived notions or bias. I am aware of racism, and I work to analyze and move forward from it. I am a social activist. I am an optimist. I am a realist. I am a rationalist. I am a dreamer. I am unafraid to speak the truth.
I have also found the courage to speak up about the program cut even though I could face repercussion for it. I could not claim any of this without the women’s studies program.
Ashley Lebesco can be reached at email@example.com.