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Davis, California

Saturday, April 13, 2024

GE not so General

UC Davis is losing its Gender Education program due to budget cuts.

According to the Women’s Resources and Research Center website, the program consisted of “professionally staffed presentations addressing links between sexism and the continuum of violence against women, and self-defense training through women-centered physical education and Rape Aggression Defense classes.”

The GE Program has been funded on and off through grants, but never became a permanent part of the UC’s budget.

Needless to say it is an … unfortunate situation, for lack of a better term. Actually, there are quite a few better terms.

Senseless. For starters, it’s just absurd that educating the campus about sexism and violence against women is not one of Davis’ main priorities. The Gender Education program is home to workshops like “Sexy or Sexist?” that promotes questioning and analyzing images of women in the media.

Sexy or Sexist, specifically, brings attention to realities that not everyone, man nor woman, pays attention to right away. The way women are dressed up, or not dressed at all, the way they are posed, the things they are used to sell; how all these things contribute to the facilitation of violence toward women.

Statistically, Davis has a higher reported rate of rape and sexual assault, but this doesn’t mean that UCD is less safe than other campuses.

Perhaps women here feel more comfortable reporting these crimes.

Perhaps it’s because of GE programs that let women know it’s not okay to be abused.

Perhaps, knowing that there are communities on campus that will support people after one of these awful crimes happens inspires victims to try to prevent them from happening again.

Counterintuitive is another word I’d use. Again, the program works to educate the campus to end violence against women. VIOLENCE. Abuse. Hitting!

What would compel a campus to get rid of a program that is aimed specifically towards ending abuse towards a sector of the campus? In addition to the workshops, the GE program has weekend-long Rape Aggression Defense classes that are also being removed. These classes teach women effective techniques to DEFEND themselves against rapists and abusers. It just makes no sense that this program would be so insignificant to the point of removing it.

There are also the very popular PE self defense classes. These classes, which can be taken for units, are being downsized. Even though there are currently nine PE classes offered throughout the year, they have limited enrollment. With the budget cuts, there will only be four classes (maximum) throughout the year.

But that doesn’t mean the holistic focus on women’s defense won’t be cut. And since physical education is offered through the school, students are paying for the classes. I’m not surprised the university would only reduce the classes and not completely cut them. Clearly, monetary benefits to teach self-defense are prioritized over practical ones.

Discouraging. What kind of hands are the women of this campus in? If the administration and the hotshots in Mrak aren’t willing to participate in a Gender Education program, what will they do for us when women need their voices to be heard?

On every campus there is at least some violence and sexual assault and the majority of the time it is towards women. Cutting this program cuts one of the few lines of defense against attempted assault and rape. That is, there is no program that might teach those men not to assault women, except through the Gender Education programs that are now cut.

With everything that it offers, the fact that Gender Education is being cut is outrageous.


SARA KOHGADAI is disappointed in the UC, but so proud to be American for the first time. If you have questions about the Gender Education program, e-mail her at sbkohgadai@ucdavis.edu.


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