By Isabel Shaw, student at Brookdale Community College
“Across the nation, challenged and banned books and challenges to curricula from elementary to higher education that cover race, gender and sexuality are not just in the news – these efforts are having an impact on educational access and the lives of individuals,” said English Professor Rosanne Alvarez, who coordinates the WILL program.
Brookdale students Jackie Romano, Amanda Zelevansky and Lillian Connor were shocked to hear that, due to misinformation and political pandering, the University of Wyoming planned to defund the university’s gender and women’s studies department and eliminate the program. The Wyoming Legislature later rescinded the defunding, but only after the embarrassing debacle was publicized.
Politicians using school curricula to rally a political base sets a dangerous precedent. Concerned about copycat bills in other states, the three students sprang into action, planning events to inform other students and to highlight the seriousness of school censorship.
Zelevansky, a business administration major and president of Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) got together with Connor, a political science major and secretary of WILL, and Romano, an English major and WILL member who is completing a Women’s and Gender studies Academic Credit Certificate of Achievement. Their plan was to find a way to counter the lies and misrepresentations promoted by ill-informed politicians and school officials.
The students were initially concerned with the unprecedented number of challenged and banned books and a “Banned Book Event” is planned for noon on Tuesday, April 19, at the upper level outside the Student Life Center. But when the threat of censorship expanded to include women and gender studies, a greater urgency unfolded.
In response, Brookdale faculty will join WILL Academic Program members for a Zoom Webinar titled “Education at the Intersections: Brookdale Faculty Discussion Panel” 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14. The group will share why it is important to resist this attempt at school censorship.
Alvarez promises an exciting and informative exchange and invites all Brookdale faculty and students for a discussion that will center on the relevance of Women and Gender studies curriculum in our current moment.
“We must consider the implications of the ongoing push to ban books and classroom curricula that represent the experiences of women, Black, indigenous, and people of color as well at the LGBTQ+ communities,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez will share her insights and help moderate the free event. The other panelists will be Professor Kathleen Kennedy, English; Associate Professor Diditi Mitra, sociology; Professor Brian Oland, psychology; Professor Jane Scimeca, history; Assistant Professor Judi Ungar, library; and Shayla Ward, English instructor.
Women in Leadership and Learning: https://www.brookdalecc.edu/will/