Governor Tate Reeves’s office claims a dedication to being “For All Mississippi,” but Reeves’s Mississippi apparently does not include gender studies majors.
The resentment toward universities and colleges is not exactly a recent phenomenon, but on Monday, this hostility was shared by our own Governor Reeves from the podium of the State of the State address. While discussing education and job training in Mississippi, Reeves took the opportunity to pick on — of all people — gender studies majors.
He said, “We can let the East Coast have their ivory towers. We can let the West Coast have a generation of gender studies majors. We will take more jobs and higher pay!”
Governor Reeves challenged Mississippi to lead the fight against the “metropolitan narcissists” who view universities as the only viable path to good-paying jobs. Admittedly, some people have demeaned other career paths in their advocacy of degree programs; however, as Mississippi Today reports, there remains a substantial gap between the earnings of Mississippi workers who have a bachelor’s degrees and those who do not, with degree holders earning an average of $44,000 and other employees earning an average of $27,000. Reeves seems to suggest that individuals can expect to find a blue-collar job in Mississippi that will pay the equivalent of a job requiring a degree, but this data suggests otherwise.
Reeves sees the purpose of education as preparing “Mississippi’s next generation for a life well-lived.” But, what exactly does “well-lived” mean?
I am sure there is not a single social science, humanities or interdisciplinary major among us who has not heard a joke or two (or even made one themselves) about job security concerns. The good news for those of us worried about future employment is that our governor has a plan. According to Reeves, universities are supposed to provide us with the only four necessary groups of professionals: bankers, doctors, lawyers and journalists.
But, where are the teachers that he promised a raise? Apparently, they are as inessential as other useless degree holders like engineers, ethicists, architects, physicists and even, scariest of all, gender studies majors.
Governor Reeves claims, “We’re proud of our universities,” but I suppose that is only because he has not looked through our course catalogues lately. In their fact checking of the speech, Mississippi Today noted that several Mississippi universities, Ole Miss and MSU included, offer gender studies majors and/or minors.
Even Governor Reeves’s own alma mater has fallen prey to this Western “pseudo major.” Reeves’s website touts his public school education from Florence, but conveniently leaves out the detail that he received his bachelor’s degree from Millsaps –– a private college that offers a minor in women’s and gender studies, if anyone was curious.
Elitism is not wanting your child to get a university degree so that they can have access to more employment opportunities. Elitism is riding on a bachelor’s degree from a private college to the highest elected office in a state just to tell your constituents what degrees are best for them.
Step down from your own ivory tower, Reeves. We liberal arts majors at the Harvard of the South are comfortable with our choices.
Amy Cain is a senior philosophy and political science major from Southaven, Mississippi.