Spelman College is opening admission and enrollment to any student who lives and self-identifies as a woman, making it the second women-only institution among historically black colleges and universities to do so, following Bennett College's lead.
The policy, which will take effect in the fall semester of 2019, was announced by Spelman president Mary S. Campbell in a letter earlier this month, NBC News reports. "Like same-sex colleges all over the country, Spelman is taking into account evolving definitions of gender identity in a changing world and taking steps to ensure that our policies and plans reflect those changes in a manner that is consistent with our mission and the law," she wrote.
This policy is not the only trans-friendly gesture Spelman is extending. In her letter, Campbell clarified that any student at the women's college who transitions to male while enrolled will still be allowed to continue their studies and eligible to graduate.
Although it will take two school years for the policy to be implemented, the Atlanta college's new policy is already being applauded. "Spelman College is breaking down barriers and setting a powerful example of what inclusivity must look like for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)," the National Black Justice Coalition wrote in a statement. "Spelman honors an enduring legacy of sisterhood by educating Black women through a lens that critically examines sexism, patriarchy, transphobia and cis-heterosexism."
"Students who choose Spelman come to our campus prepared to participate in a women's college that is academically and intellectually rigorous, and affirms its core mission as the education and development of high-achieving Black women," Campbell continued in in her letter, noting that Spelman is updating its definition of what a high-achieving black woman is.