A women’s studies class at the University of Alabama (UA) potentially made tens of thousands of dollars for the gender and race studies department by charging students over $95 for a textbook full of materials available elsewhere for free.

According to one of UA's campus newspapers, The Crimson White, 97% of the e-textbook and courseware students of UA’s Introduction to Women’s Studies class were required to purchase was freely accessible online. The remaining 3% are articles UA students can access through the university’s library. 

Last fall, the book price was $95, but it is now $99.08. 

One syllabus from women’s studies professor Elizabeth McKnight listed the e-textbook under “required texts.” McKnight is listed as the textbook’s author on the McGraw-Hill Connect website. Connect is the digital course platform for the textbook.

Another syllabus from professor Millicent Krebs shows the same.

UA automatically charges enrolled women’s studies students for the courseware. However, students can opt out of the textbook by the add/drop deadline for classes. If they opt out of the textbook, however, they cannot complete homework and quizzes.

Conservative critics have condemned similar “studies” programs at other schools for being unabashedly left-wing, ideologically driven and encouraging of activism. 

According to both McKnight’s and Krebs’s syllabi, the introductory to women’s studies course examines “the roles of women in patriarchal society, with emphasis on how factors such as race, class, gender and sexuality contribute to the oppression of women and ways they can be challenged through feminist critical practices.”

The content of the course includes links to publicly accessible pro-abortion YouTube videos and news articles, including an opinion piece by AL.com’s John Archibald, blaming Alabama’s abortion restrictions in part for why “Alabama is a tough place to be a woman” and a self-described “third-wave” feminist “manifesta,” which advocates for the “right” to take the life of a preborn “regardless of circumstances” and for feminists to target young people to create “a voting block of eighteen to forty-year-olds.”

Another article argues that gender is a “social institution” and advocates raising “androgynous children” free of “gendered norms.” In fact, an entire module is dedicated purely to the “Social Construction of Gender.”

One collection of essays assigned in that module even calls Christianity and the Western philosophical tradition “intellectual fascism” for believing that truth is objective.

It reads: "Why are we so frightened of difference and multiplicity? Perhaps it is the Western belief in the One True God? Strength, goodness and truth are properties of our God’s oneness. And all those tribes with multiple gods, tribes that were slaughtered by the ancient Hebrews, must have been weak, false evil and duplicitous … Unfortunately, such approach is a kind of intellectual fascism that squeezes out individual truths.”

More content advocates for sexual promiscuity, “queering society” and  “learning from drag queens.”

You can find the full list of links below:

Warning: Some of the material contains vulgar content.

WS 200 Contents by Hank Hill on Scribd

An anonymous professor told the Crimson White about meeting with a representative from McGraw-Hill about creating a similar textbook and using the women's studies e-textbook as a model. 

The professor claimed to have been offered $10 in royalties for every e-textbook purchased. If the women's studies e-textbook came with the same bargain, UA's gender and race studies department would have raked in $26,250 in the fall semester. 

The details of the deal with McGraw-Hill involving the women's studies textbook are unknown. However, the paper reported that total textbook profits are split between the department, McGraw-Hill and UA.

McKnight's husband and chair of the Department of Gender and Race, Utz McKnight, told the Crimson White that his wife receives no individual profit from the book, and all the money goes back to the Department of Gender and Race. He defended the content of the textbook, arguing that textbooks have to be able to be updated quickly. He said that his department prioritizes maintaining reasonable textbook prices for students.

Since the McKnights do not directly profit from the e-textbook, the material does not have to be sent to a textbook selection committee for approval.

1819 News reached out to UA for comment and received no response. 

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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