To the Editors,
Even now, so far away from the comfort of the campus, whenever I meet a fellow Wellesley woman, there is an immediate and ineffable bond with them; a nod and a smile, asking about dorms and professors. We know what we went through because we have both experienced the crucible on the shores of Lake Waban. We are a sisterhood in the truest sense of the word.
Henry and Pauline Durant founded Wellesley College as a nondenominational institution where women could receive the best education available. Though education was almost universally single-sex at the time, to have no religious affiliation was an anomaly. Since then, Wellesley has striven to offer and promote the best educational experience for women.
Some may remember a seminar that was given a few years ago on the subject of when Wellesley almost went co-ed in 1972. The testimonies from faculty and alumnae clearly showed that it was only by the incredible hard work of dedicated Wellesley women that we preserved the core ethos of Wellesley as a women’s college. We may have gone co-educational then, but we didn’t. Instead, I would argue that it was only after that reaffirmation of Wellesley’s single–sex environment that it began to soar to new academic heights.
Before and since then, there have been trans men who have graduated from Wellesley. And most Wellesley women would agree that Wellesley would be a less rich and accepting place without the gender diversity that is present. But Wellesley would not be Wellesley if it were co-educational, either. It is essential to uphold and support our sisters who span the gender spectrum. Those who wish to make the biological change from female to male should also have our support, but if they continue to be educated at Wellesley, that must necessarily reignite the question of whether Wellesley can remain a single-sex educational system.
I love all of my Wellesley sisters, and I respect and bow to the courage of those who decided to change sex; but they are no longer, by their own choice, sisters. And, as brilliant and special as they are to all of us personally, institutionally they pose a liability to the core of our college. I do not mean to institute a culture of sex-discrimination, but I do believe that, as we all made the choice to attend a women’s college, they made the choice to no longer be biologically female, and therefore should respect the College’s fundamentals.
Wellesley is in a constant state of flux, ever evolving as it grows with its students, but in the 139 years since Wellesley opened its doors to students, three things have remained constant and dear: nondenominational academic excellence for women. Let us preserve one lest we endanger all three.
Valentina S. Grub ’12