In January, Townhall reported how Ithaca College in New York will allow students who identify as “transgender” or “non-binary” to live in a separate residential community that excludes “cis-identifying students.” This move was meant to create a “supportive community” for students who identify as LGBTQ+. This week, reports broke that students at an all-women’s college would voice whether or not they want transgender and “non-binary” people on their campus.
Students at Wellesley College, a women’s liberal arts school in Massachusetts, will vote on Tuesday as to whether transgender and nonbinary individuals should be allowed to apply.
According to the New York Post, the school decided to have a vote after some students “flagged concerns” about the admissions policy. Current policy only accepts students who “live and consistently identify” as women. At one point, the student newspaper’s editorial board reportedly penned an op-ed accusing the school of being “transphobic.” Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Diane Sawyer, all attended the school.
The non-binding referendum will ask students for their thoughts on the matter and if the school should be more “gender inclusive.” According to the Post, school President Paula A. Johnson opposes the referendum and said in a letter that it would not impact the school’s policies (via the New York Post):
Johnson said the ballot was instead a chance for students to “express their views” on the controversial issue.
“We are not a ‘historically women’s college,’ a term that only applies to women’s colleges that have made the decision to enroll men,” Johnson wrote. “We have chosen a different path, one that aligns with peer institutions including Barnard, Smith, and Bryn Mawr colleges.
“In accordance with our admission policy, Wellesley admits applicants who identify and live consistently as women, regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth,” she added.
The students who oppose the current admissions policy have argued the school isn’t female-only because some classmates have transitioned to male or begun identifying as nonbinary while studying there.
They added that some of Wellesley’s trans and nonbinary students feel excluded by the use of the words “women” and “alumnae” in various college communications.
Johnson sought to address those concerns, saying it was important that all students “feel seen” and that the school was working on finding a balance.
According to the New York Times, women’s colleges have been “grappling” with transgender issues in recent years. Sweet Briar College in Virginia requires applicants who are not biological females to show an amended birth certificate showing the person’s gender as female. But, when Mount Holyoke College changed its admissions policy in 2014, alumni reportedly voiced “deep concerns.”
Elizabeth Um, a senior at Wellesley who leads the school’s pro-life group, said that she chose the school in part because it is a women’s college.
“If you don’t think you can fit in here, then you have your pick of thousands of other coed colleges in the country or the world,” she said, adding, “We’re a women’s college. That’s the core identity of the school, and we can’t start watering that down.”