The Right to Learn

“Let us learn” is the message IPFW students and faculty want the administration to consider before suspending liberal arts programs, but that message has resulted in harassment from other students and the community.

Protests, calls for resignations, and sexual harassment have been products of the USAP report in October, leading to backlash between students, administration, and the community.

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The three major departments being slated for suspension at the start of the 2017 calendar year are women’s studies, philosophy, and geology.

Not In Our Future, student and faculty-run organization started in May against Purdue and IPFW’s decision to cut liberal arts programs being suspended Jan. 1st of next year.

The group held protests at the obelisk between Kettler Hall, Neff, and the engineering building on Oct. 26 and 27 in cold and cloudy conditions.

Janet Badia is a professor and director of the women’s studies program at IPFW, and is one of the many school professors who were at the protests last month in support of the students.

“I am here to help them, support them, make sure their voices get heard,” Badia said, “amplify their voices, second what they have to say, and help them make the arguments they want to make.”

Cody Fuelling, an IPFW student associated with Not In Our Future, said women’s studies students and professors have been sexually harassed.

“There is a study lounge (associated with women’s studies), and Dr. Badia has a door, and these doors have been covered in sharpie of male genitalia,” Fuelling said, “and this has happened to women’s studies before, and it’s continuing now.”

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At one point, there were Twitter accounts made to troll Not In Our Future, but Fuelling said many of them have since been deleted.

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The group is comprised with others on campus who feel that the cuts could lead to bigger problems.

“It doesn’t affect me directly,” Jalyn Ely, an IPFW communications major said, “I’m afraid of how it’s going to affect the community in the future.”

Not In Our Future’s Facebook page, which as of yesterday has 1,504 page likes, describes itself as, “IPFW students, alumni, and Fort Wayne community members resisting Purdue leadership and complicit members of IPFW administration as they attempt to deprive Northeast Indiana of access to affordable, comprehensive education.”

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As a result of the backlash surrounding the USAP report, many at IPFW have shifted blame toward the university’s chancellor, Vicky Carwein, resulting in an official document, “A Faculty Notice of No Confidence in Chancellor Carwein.”

In the document, the faculty states that Carwein has failed the campus as followed: failure to represent the interests of the campus, lack of commitment to the stated mission of IPFW without the ability to articulate a clear vision or rationale or changing the mission, mismanagement of USAP and lack of commitment to operationalizing the 2014-2020 Strategic Plan, and damage to the campus morale by creating a culture of fear.

The full document can be read here: statement-of-no-confidence.

These claims have led people in the community to criticize the protests in the comment sections on Facebook posts related to the issue. Many believe the protestors are just being immature and do not understand these cuts are happening for a good reason.

“Get over it,” one Facebook user said, “change your major to something that has meaning in the REAL world.”

In an email sent to students from Chancellor Carwein on Nov. 15, she made it clear that harassment has no place at IPFW.

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“It’s all being magnified, because women’s studies is being slated for elimination,” Fuelling said,” women’s studies says, ‘Hey don’t eliminate us.’ And then people who want to see women’s studies go away now have this opportunity to voice that it should be eliminated.”

A common concern for students and alumni is that the changes now will lead to bigger ones down the road, and the IPFW brand will be terminated. Leaving the 52-year history of the school in limbo.

Alexander Sanderson, an IPSGA officer, says that kind of thinking is wrong, because “IPFW will never die.”

Not in Our Future plans to hold more events by the end of the school year as the women’s studies, philosophy, and geology are suspended.

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