Letter to the Editor: Plans for Humanities relocation unsuitable for student needs

By Kelsey Barowich

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Marielle Fibish/Collegian

Marielle Fibish/Collegian

I am not a number.

So it’s beyond disheartening when I see that my major—Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies—has been left out of the floor plan of the renovated South College.

Recently, the University set forth its agenda to knock down Bartlett Hall, but leave homeless many of the majors that call Bartlett their home, including WGSS, Art History, English and Philosophy. There is no plan to relocate them to a centralized location, or to even create a new home that would meet their needs. The renovated version of South College, which has been marketed as a partial replacement for Bartlett Hall, is planned to feature a series of lecture halls.

It’s alarming to hear this, seeing as these disciplines typically do not use, or even need, lecture halls. In WGSS, students do not learn from lectures. We are taught through class dialogue and discussion. We are taught through conversation, which is something that a lecture hall fails to support. We need smaller spaces in order to facilitate intimate relationships between our faculty and students. To instead give us lecture halls is a complete slap in the face.

What’s worse is that this disrespect is nothing new to members of the WGSS department. My advisor sits in an office with a temporary wall, and while we are talking, everyone in the office can hear what I am saying to her. God forbid I ever receive privacy to speak about struggles with my studies; no, that would be far too much to ask of the school that I am paying over $20,000 a year to attend.

And that’s just the start. I have had classes in Bartlett Hall for a total of 5 semesters now. I have been in rooms that are overheated or not heated at all, rooms that have broken clocks and rooms that are constantly bombarded by loud banging noises. It’s not conducive to learning.

This renovation could destroy WGSS, the one place on this campus that has actually given me a home. WGSS has one of the most positive student evaluations of all the departments of this campus. To lose this program would not only harm its students but also the university as a whole. This campus needs my major and the thinkers it creates. This campus needs people who challenge inequality and injustice, who strive to make the world a better place.

Recently at a meeting to discuss other possibilities for the new building, an idea was introduced that each department, “would be in a nicer space than they are in now.” When your “space” is strewn about the building and already subpar, this idea is not promising much.

This is unacceptable, and students will not stand for it. We are not numbers and we will not be silenced or ignored.

To show your support and continued to be updated on the university’s plans, please join our Facebook page “Students for a New Humanities Center at UMass Amherst.”

Kelsey Barowich
Class of 2015