Humanity and Values in Times of Crisis

March 23, 2020

Humanity and Values in Times of Crisis:

Dear GSWS students,

Because the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies is focused on individual and collective transformation, we seek to collaborate with our colleagues and students on a path forward academically, but more importantly, personally and collectively, during this time of emergency.

As a department, we want to say that we are here for you. We are actively looking for ways to be connected with you so that we can be together virtually in the upcoming weeks.

Many anti-racist and queer feminists have critiqued what happens during a state of emergency, especially how mass instability exacerbates stigma of certain groups and underscores how systems and institutions work to maintain inequities under global capitalism. These critics have simultaneously underscored how people and communities come together to create positive social change together, often in ways that haven’t been seen or thought of before.

GSWS faculty and staff have been meeting regularly since the COVID-19 outbreak to discuss how we can continue the semester while foregrounding self and community care. We believe that this is the time for us to learn skills that might not have been overtly stated on syllabi, to share academic and material resources, and to prioritize our students’ well being above all else.

While sitting on university and college-level committees, our faculty and staff have been a strong and unified student-centered voice, asking for the resources (material and human) that are necessary to keep our students safe and heard during this crisis. We do this in the hope that after the crisis passes, perhaps the way we educate and are educated will be forever changed. Here are some specific actions we are taking:

  1. Compiling a resource list of local resources (which include macro-level mutual aid networks)
  2. Creating micro mutual aid networks on the classroom level
  3. Creating low-stakes/no-stakes assignments
  4. Being advocates for a range of approaches which might include: paring down assignments, Pass/Fail, “A for All” methods of classroom-level assessment
  5. Sharing self and community care ideas so that students can complete these assignments for credit in our classes

Please don't hesitate to reach out should you have any urgent needs, questions, or concerns. Be on the lookout for news about virtual gathering spaces and activities in the near future.

Signed,

Faculty and Staff of the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies