Mar 032005
 
Authors: Caroline Welch

Seven years ago, before Matthew Shepard's death, and before Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Services opened its doors, six CSU faculty members had an idea.

Randy McCrillis, director of GLBTSS, which opened in fall of 1998, and five others started thinking about a GLBT Interdisciplinary Studies Certificate.

McCrillis said the certificate program would be offered to any student who was interested, mostly those students going into social work or psychology.

"The program would mean having an understanding of GLBT issues and practice working with the GLBT population," McCrillis said.

The group took surveys in 1997 to find out if CSU students would be interested in the program, and the response was overwhelming.

"There was a huge interest," McCrillis said.

The group began writing its 20-page proposal, and in 2002 submitted it to CSU's Faculty Council and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE), but the answer was a clear "no."

"It was during the first major cycle of budget cuts in Colorado," McCrillis said. "There wasn't enough money to create classes and pay faculty."

But Keith Ickes, interim vice president for administrative services, said funding programs is a constant problem.

"There are lots and lots of good ideas," Ickes said. "Just not lots and lots of money."

When allocating funds, Ickes said the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis looks at the university's strategic plan. He said those programs that fit with the strategic plan (which now focuses on the programs that have received national recognition), will get the money first, in order to move CSU forward in a strategic way.

Starting the program, McCrillis said, would mean creating two additional classes, building the infrastructure and hiring another full-time staff member to be the primary contact, all of which requires money that does not fit the budget. McCrillis is the only full-time staff member for GLBTSS.

McCrillis said the program would have met the university requirement of 21 credits for a certificate program and most of the classes are already offered at CSU including Inquiry to the GLBT experience and 20th Century Gay and Lesbian Fiction.

More specifically, McCrillis said, the program would include four core classes and a group of 21 supporting classes to choose from in order to complete the 21-credit requirement and earn the certificate.

Trish Becker, a sophomore psychology major, said such a program would have many benefits.

"This program would be beneficial for any career," she said. "It would help me relate to people, and expand my knowledge of something I hadn't explored before."

But the project is at a complete standstill because of limited funding, McCrillis said, and the future looks bleak.

"There's no light really at the end of the tunnel," McCrillis said. "But all of the classes we have will still be here."

And the situation is the same university-wide. Ickes said the budget will continue to be tight unless Colorado makes some changes in the Constitution.

"(The budget) is pretty tight most of the time," he said. "It's been really tight lately and unless Colorado changes the Constitution, it won't change. It will stay tight."

The Office of Women's Programs and Studies offers a similar certificate program, which started in 1978 with an undergraduate program, at a time when women's issues were discussed nationwide, said Jody Jessup Anger, the interim director for the office.

"We want to provide increased awareness about the lives of women and about the interaction of gender in different subject matters," she said. "We want to provide space for women and those interested in the lives of women to find voice."

Jessup Anger said the time was right for CSU to develop a women's studies program, but it has not yet been the time to create a GLBT certificate program.

"Awareness has increased," she said. "But the climate is still difficult."

Erica Eiten, a sophomore speech communications major, is looking to earn the women's studies certificate by the time she graduates.

"I really enjoy the diversity it offers," she said. "I get to see other perspectives and see women empowered."

Eiten said she agrees more with the new-age definition of feminism and calls herself an "equalitist," meaning everyone is equal and should have an equal opportunity. She said a GLBT certificate program, along with others like it, would be beneficial and such certificate programs would give her a chance to expand her knowledge and her horizons.

The Women's Interdisciplinary Studies Certificate is one of the only certificate programs offered through a CSU advocacy office, Jessup Anger said. The only other certificate program in advocacy is through the Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity, which offers a certificate program in ethnic studies.

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