Students at Wellesley College, the prestigious all-female institute of higher learning that boasts famous alumni including failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, and author Nora Ephron, are demanding that the historic school now allow “trans men” to be admitted.
On Tuesday, students approved a non-binding referendum that would accept admissions applications from all nonbinary and transgender applicants including biological females who now identify as men, a move that has polarized the campus at the Massachusetts college which has touted itself as a place for “women who will make a difference in the world.”
The college which has an enrollment of around 2,500 already accepts students who “live as women and consistently identify as women,” according to Wellesley’s website which also states that it does not accept female students who identify as men.
“Wellesley is deeply committed to our mission to educate women and the College is proud of its history of graduating women who demonstrate the value of women’s leadership. Wellesley does not accept applications from men. Those assigned female at birth who identify as men are not eligible for admission.”
(Image: Screengrab: Wellesley College)
According to a report from CNN, “The student referendum, which is non-binding and does not change the college’s current policy, asked students if they supported a proposal to be presented to the Board of Trustees that would expand the college’s admissions to include transgender men and all nonbinary people regardless of their assigned gender at birth, according to a copy of the ballot,” that was shared with the network.
Students were also asked to vote on whether Wellesley’s communications should be changed in order to be more gender inclusive with some examples being the substitution of terms such as “students” and “alumni” instead of women.
“Wellesley College acknowledges the result of the nonbinding student ballot initiative,” the college said in a statement following the vote. “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 nonbinary students, in the important work of building an inclusive academic community where everyone feels they belong.”
The referendum was opposed by Wellesley president Paula Johnson who suggested that it would rewrite its mission “to provide an excellent liberal arts education to women.”
Johnson has been supportive of admitting “trans female” individuals who were born as males, stating that ‘This is who we are: a women’s college and a diverse community.’
In a message to the college, Johnson described the school as “a women’s college that admits cis, trans and nonbinary students — all who consistently identify as women.”
“What does Wellesley mean by ‘a women’s college?’ 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. Our community includes students from a broad spectrum of racial, ethnic, geographic, socioeconomic, and religious groups. We know that the experience of living and learning as part of a diverse student body leads to better educational outcomes and helps prepare students to be the leaders, changemakers, and citizens the world so desperately needs,” Johnson wrote.
That, however, didn’t sit well with some students who staged protests including a sit-in at the administration building with departments issuing statements supporting the controversial referendum, the campus newspaper’s editorial board blasted Johnson, saying that “we disapprove and entirely disagree” with the president.
In an interview before the vote, student body president Alexandra Brooks said, “We’re just asking the administration to put on paper what’s already true of the student body,” she said. “Trans men go to Wellesley, nonbinary people go to Wellesley, and they kind of always have.”
A new policy, she said, “would not in any way change the culture of the school,” she added. “It’s still, and always will be, a school to educate people who are of marginalized genders.”
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