Students at the famed Wellesley College for women voted this week to extend admission to trans men and non-binary students, though campus administrators have said there is “no plan” to immediately change school policy.
In a non-binding election on Tuesday, students at the liberal arts college in Massachusetts voted to open admission to all non-binary and transgender students, including trans men, reported Wellesley News, the college’s student newspaper.
Wellesley’s alumni include former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, ex-US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, and other public figures.
The proposed resolution, which will be presented to Wellesley’s board of trustees, would allow trans men to be admitted to the university. Non-binary applicants, regardless of their sex at birth, would also be considered for admission, according to the resolution approved by students.
The ballot measure would also call for the university to replace gender-specific language with gender neutral language in reference to its student body, including using they/them pronouns in place of she/her pronouns, according to CNN.
The admissions policy which students have voted in favor of modifying notes that anyone who identifies as a woman is eligible for admission, the college’s website says.
Non-binary students “who were assigned female at birth” are currently considered eligible for admission. But trans men are not considered for admission.
Students have argued that the resolution came in part because of students who transitioned in college and felt excluded by the university’s use of descriptors including “women” and “alumnae”, the Boston Globe reported.
Despite the student support, Wellesley administrators have said they will not consider the ballot measure ratified by students.
“Although there is no plan to revisit its mission as a women’s college or its admissions policy, the college will continue to engage all students, including transgender male and non-binary students, in the important work of building an inclusive academic community where everyone feels they belong,” Wellseley’s media relations director, Stacey Schmeidel, said.
Wellesley’s president Paula Johnson spoke about the proposed question last week in an open message entitled: “Affirming our mission and embracing our community.”
Johnson’s message said: “Wellesley is a women’s college that admits cis, trans, and non-binary students – all who consistently identify as women.” Johnson added that Wellesley’s being both a “women’s college and a diverse community” was not a mutually exclusive proposition.
Several students were critical of Johnson’s open message, with the Wellesley News’s editorial board calling out Johnson for intervening in student discourse and neglecting to mention legislative attacks on transgender people in her broader statement.
“The Wellesley News editorial board is once again stating that transgender and non-binary students have always belonged and will continue to belong at Wellesley, a historically women’s college,” the editorial board wrote in a letter.
Students have previously criticized the university’s lack of inclusive language for transgender and non-binary students.
Students also have urged Wellesley’s board of trustees to keep a mural featuring the transgender flag which was powerwashed in 2021.
School administrators have said that they support students who transition after being admitted, noting on their website that “[once] accepted to Wellesley, every student receives the full support and mentorship of college faculty, staff, and administrators through graduation.”
Wellesley currently has no data on how many transgender and non-binary students attend the college, according to the New York Times.
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