Wellesley 20/20, a student activist organization that is dedicated to help instate a trans-inclusive admissions policy beginning with the Class of 2020, recently released an online petition addressed to the Board of Trustees to have the College adopt a new admissions policy. Wellesley sent the petition in a school-wide email and as a Facebook event on Thursday, Feb. 19.
The current policy at Wellesley only considers applications whose indicators on legal documents consistently identify the applicant as a woman. Wellesley 20/20 believes that this policy needs to make amends to include transwomen.
“We believe that Wellesley’s current admissions policy is inadequate and exclusionary. It presents unnecessary hurdles to trans women who apply, especially those from lower income brackets, which violates our identity as a women’s college,” Wellesley 20/20 said in a statement.
The petition is being circulated at a time when the Board of Trustees is coming to a decision on admissions policies for applicants. Many peer institutions around the nation have revised their admissions policies to reflect a broader range of gender expression, but varies among each institution.
“If Wellesley follows the precedent set by other women’s colleges, it could result in a variety of different policies, some of which are more inclusive than others. For example, Bryn Mawr does not rely on self-identification as we hope Wellesley will,” Wellesley 20/20 added.
While Smith College only admits students who are designated female at birth, Mills College has opted to accept anyone who is designated as female at birth or who identifies as a woman. Wellesley 20/20 seeks to promote a policy like that of Mount Holyoke, which does not require all documentation to be consistent, so long as the applicant does not identify as cisgender male. On the other hand, the policy from Simmons College does consist of restrictions.
“Simmons College explicitly excludes nonbinary individuals who were designated male at birth, while including nonbinary individuals designated female at birth. We hope that Wellesley will not adopt such a policy, because distinguishing between nonbinary individuals on the basis of designated sex at birth is superficial and cissexist,” Wellesley 20/20 said.
Wellesley 20/20, which defines their push for an updated policy as a movement, presented at Senate in December and is currently holding events around campus to promote awareness. Last semester, the group hosted a panel examining the current policies at historically women’s colleges, the revisions that have recently been made at other colleges and the hardships encountered by transmen, people designated male at birth transgender, and non-binary students at women’s colleges. The event opened up community discussion regarding trans-related policy issues. The Board of Trustees and the Gender Advisory Board possess the power to make changes in the policies, so Wellesley 20/20’s main goal is to spread awareness on the matters in question and provide education to the overall Wellesley community. The organization hopes that by providing additional information to members of the community, Wellesley can become a better, more welcoming environment.
“Part of our commitment as a women’s college is cultivating a welcoming and inclusive campus climate, and there is much work still to be done to that end,” Wellesley 20/20 stated.
Wellesley 20/20 has open meetings every Sunday at 3:00 p.m. in the Library Lecture room, which are open to anyone who is interested. The group is open to answering any questions about the petition and members of the organization are manning tables around campus this week to respond to any questions and concerns. On Wednesday, Feb. 25, members will be available in the Lulu Student Center and Bates Hall between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m. The link to the petition can be found of Wellesley 20/20’s Facebook page. Any questions or concerns can directed toward Marissa Klee-Peregon ’16 at email@example.com
Photo courtesy of Wellesley 20/20
Stephanie Yeh ’18 is a News Editor who is pursuing a double major in Biochemistry and East Asian Studies. For fun, she binge-watches The Office on Netflix, eats copious amounts of ramen, and hibernates. She is best reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.