Students at Wellesley College, a women’s college in Massachusetts, have recently approved a referendum calling for accepting admissions applications from nonbinary and transgender prospective students.
The student referendum aimed to gauge support for a proposal to expand Wellesley College's admissions criteria to include trans men and all nonbinary individuals, irrespective of their assigned gender at birth, CNN reports.
Though the referendum is nonbinding and won’t alter the college’s current policies, it motions to bring the proposal before the Wellesley College Board of Trustees. The move reflects the growing demand for more inclusive policies and practices in educational institutions.
According to Wellesley College’s gender policy, the school is open to admission for “any applicant who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman.”
“Consistently,” the gender policy FAQ reads, “simply denotes a student’s commitment to her gender identity.” This means that trans women, along with nonbinary individuals assigned female at birth, are eligible for admission. Trans men and nonbinary applicants who were assigned male at birth are ineligible.
Per CNN, the ballot also proposed that the college's communications “replace all gender-specific language with gender-neutral language in reference to its student body.” This would involve using "students" instead of "women" and "they/them" pronouns instead of "she/her."
In a statement released following the referendum vote, Wellesley’s director of media relations Stacey Schmeidel said, “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.”
And last week, Wellesley president Paula A. Johnson published an open message on the ballot question that ultimately reaffirmed the college’s current gender policy. “Wellesley is a women’s college,” Johnson states, “that admits cis, trans, and nonbinary students — all who consistently identify as women.”
The student-run Wellesley News editorial board has since denounced Johnson’s statements.