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Duke gender committee should seek full balance

November 8, 2007

Duke University has assembled a student committee for establishing gender policies for the school's undergraduates.

The Student Government Executive Board at Duke University last week created an Undergraduate Committee on Gender to establish gender-related policies for the campus.

While the particular issues the committee will address have not yet been identified, student government president Paul Slattery cited gender as "a persistent unit of analysis across university documents." 

This is not the first time leaders and students at Duke have considered gender issues.

In 2003, Duke published a Women's Initiative study that rightly sought to address issues of gender equality. The study examined issues such as the tenure clock for female faculty with family responsibilities, childcare for younger faculty, the various pressures facing undergraduate women including those related to the "hookup culture," among a host of others.

The new committee seeks to address issues related to both genders, a development that committee members applaud.

"The conversation should include the men on this campus," senior Gina Ireland, student government president for academic affairs told the Duke Chronicle. "These issues have predominantly been approached from the perspective of women as opposed to the perspective of gender. Duke's men are a vital component of this conversation."

While the issues and questions the committee will research remain unidentified, Slattery expects one topic to be space and living arrangements with regard to gender.

As Genderblog has reported in various recent posts, gender and living arrangements is being discussed on numerous college campuses across the United States in the context of accommodating cohabitating heterosexual couples and those students who identify themselves as "transgender."

We applaud the Duke student committee for seeking to address important issues related to gender and for its desire to examine matters that affect both male and female students at the university.

The college years are crucial times in the lives of young men and women, years in which their minds are strenuously working through worldview issues that, in many cases, sets the course for the rest of their lives. Thus, clarity on gender issues is no trifling matter, as the very existence of groups such as CBMW contend.

We would love to see Duke's committee include a Christian who holds to the biblical complementarian position, one who could graciously articulate God's good design for men and women.  Such an inclusion would partially assist the committee in meeting its stated goal of developing a comprehensive and balanced perspective on gender-related topics.  If you are a Duke student, or have a son, daughter, or friend at Duke, you are welcome to contact us as we would appreciate the opportunity to be part of this dialogue. 

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