The University of South Carolina Upstate has announced the outright elimination of its Center for Women’s and Gender Studies effective July 1, 2014.
School officials have blamed efforts to cut spending for the decision. In a statement obtained by Inside Higher Ed, Chancellor Tom Moore said the center’s closure was “particularly hard given the importance of their programming and the unfortunate timing of this announcement.”
Moore’s reference to “unfortunate timing” is a reference to the school’s decision in March to host Butchy McDyke, an LGBT activist and performer, whose explicit goal is to teach students how to be lesbians, or at least be better lesbians. (RELATED: Campus Invites Butchy McDyke To Give Lesbian Lifestyle Training Seminar)
News of the event created a firestorm of controversy throughout South Carolina, and it was later called off.
The real name of “Butchy McDyke” is Leigh Hendrix. Her stock talk, appropriately titled “How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less,” was to be funded by USC Upstate’s Center for Women’s & Gender Studies as well as outside groups. It was part of a broader campus program on gay and lesbian studies.
Some angry professors at the Spartanburg, S.C. school have charged that the abolition of the gender studies center is directly related to the outcry over Butchy McDyke’s scheduled appearance.
They note, for example, that the women-focused center’s programming budget was just $500 per year.
“In my personal opinion it’s an act of retribution,” one unidentified faculty member told the Charleston City Paper, an alternative rag out of The Palmetto State’s second-largest city.
“To say I’m disgusted is an understatement,” groused another professor. “The center was a sign of a positive and progressive workplace for faculty and staff and a safe haven for students, gone now with no input from the faculty, staff and students it served.”
Other faculty members labeled their employer “a hostile environment” because of the defunding decision, the City Paper says.
Conservative lawmakers loudly criticized USC Upstate for its plan to host Butchy McDyke’s appearance.
“It’s just not normal and then you glorify…same-sex orientation,” said Rep. Mike Fair, according to the City Paper. “That’s not an explanation of ‘I was born this way.’ That’s recruiting.”
“If they’ve got extra money sitting around to promote perversion, obviously they’ve got more money than they really need,” protested Sen. Kevin Bryant, another Republican.
Professors at the school who focus on gender studies say they will start a petition drive in the hope of bring the gender studies center back, notes Inside Higher Ed.
Meanwhile, students wishing to minor in women’s and gender studies at USC Upstate may still do so.