Students at Wellesley, an all women's college in Massachusetts, have voted in a non-binding election to expand admission to trans men and non-binary people who were assigned male at birth. Photo courtesy of Wellesley College
March 15 (UPI) -- Students at Wellesley, an all women's college in Massachusetts, have voted to expand admission to non-binary and transgender applicants in a non-binding election, as administrators reaffirmed there is "no plan" to revisit the college's admission policy.
The students voted Tuesday to approve the non-binding gender inclusivity referendum, which would expand admission to trans men and non-binary people who were assigned male at birth, as opponents argued it would defy Wellesley's identity as a women's college.
"Wellesley College acknowledges the result of the non-binding student ballot initiative," a spokesperson for the college said in an emailed statement to UPI.
"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 non-binary students, in the important work of building an inclusive academic community where everyone feels they belong."
While the college acknowledged the outcome of the student-run ballot initiative, it did not release a vote count or percentage.
Wellesley, which is located near Boston, is home to about 2,500 students and boasts a number of notable alumnae, including Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright.
According to its website, Wellesley College does not accept applications from trans men, but trans women and those who were born female and identify as non-binary are eligible to apply.
"Wellesley invites applications from all those who live as women and consistently identify as women and who are prepared for rigorous academic environment that challenges them to achieve their highest potential," the college website says.
Last week, Wellesley College President Paula Johnson issued a statement in an email to students, expressing support while reaffirming the non-binding referendum will not change any admissions policy at the school.
Wellesley, which was founded as a women's college in 1870, "was founded on the then-radical idea that educating women of all socioeconomic backgrounds leads to progress for everyone," Johnson said. "As a college and community, we continue to challenge the norms and power structures that too often leave women, and others of marginalized identities, behind."
Students responded to the president's statement with a sit-in at the college's administration building last week and a rebuke in the student newspaper.
"We disapprove of and entirely disagree with President Johnson's email," the Wellesley news editorial board said Wednesday.
"President Johnson's response is part of a broader trend of Wellesley's administration and the Board of Trustees intervening in student discourse, which sets a problematic precedent," the editorial board added.
"Transgender and non-binary students have always belonged and will continue to belong at Wellesley, a historically women's college."