Women’s Centre denied money for survey

By Michael Leung

A recent decision by Alberta Community Development will compromise a survey on women’s education experience at the University of Calgary, according to the Women’s Collective and Resource Centre.

The WCRC hoped to conduct a fall survey for later submission to the Undergraduate Curriculum Redesign Team.

"Instead of surveying a full sample of students in September, when a large and diverse student body is on campus, the minister’s decision has forced the WCRC to conduct a very small survey during the summer session," stated a recent WCRC press release. "Ten-thousand dollars will allow a comprehensive survey to be conducted in the fall and thereby result in a far more substantive report."

"The objective is to collect information from a diverse sample of women undergraduate students at the U of C regarding their understanding or perception of their experience as women within the university learning environment," said WCRC Coordinator Laura Adamo. "During our preliminary research (last August and September), we learned of the university’s restructuring plans for the undergraduate curriculum. We also learned that ‘gender’ is not mentioned in the ucrt documents and therefore feel that the WCRC project is not only timely, but necessary."

The WCRC applied for $10,000 under the ACD’s Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Education Fund. According to the ACD’s web page, "the fund was established to support Albertans who are striving to meet the challenge of reducing discrimination and fostering equality. Financial assistance is available to organizations involved in projects that reduce discrimination and racism or aVect changes in programs, services or organizations that prevent full and equitable participation."

However, the ACD ministry felt the WCRC’s proposal had different objectives.

"The minister made the decision not to fund the project because the mandate of the project was to conduct a curriculum review," said Denine Krieger, Executive Assistant to the ACD Minister. "If the university feels that they require a curriculum review, they are certainly free to fund it on their own. Curriculum review does not fall under the community initiatives."

The advisory committee denied the WCRC’s Þrst proposal, stating it did not fulÞll requirements regarding a show of support from the organization’s senior management.

"We submitted four letters of support from administrators on this campus, including one from the [university’s] VPAcademic and the coordinator of the review team," said Adamo, at which point the advisory committee submitted its approval to the minister. "This is when we learned that he turned down the committee’s recommendation, on the grounds that (according to the letter received) ‘there is a belief that the mandate of the fund should not include curriculum reviews. The fund should be supporting straightforward community education initiatives.’"

Adamo disagreed with the ACD’s assertion.

"The university and the students, staff and faculty are, of course, part of the community," she said.

The WCRC press release indicates two other projects which did receive funding, despite their curriculum-based nature.

It states: "It [funding] is inconsistent with ACD’s recent funding history which includes grant approval for two curriculum-based projects to the Heritage Agricultural Society and to the Tapestry Project by the Worlds Citizen Centre in Lethbridge."

According to the minister’s office, these projects had different mandates which did fall under ACD guidelines.

"They’re offering a teaching program for citizenship or for multiculturalism," said Krieger. "They are not doing reviews of an existing curriculum. They’re not a fair comparison."

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