Saint Mary’s College has approved a policy to consider male applicants who “identify as women,” which would effectively strip the school of its ability to accurately call itself a women’s college.
The college’s “non-discrimination” policy now says that Saint Mary’s can consider admission for undergraduate applicants “whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women,” according to a report by the Observer.
“The mission of Saint Mary’s College is to empower women, through education, at all stages in life,” the policy reads. “Essential to this mission is fostering a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus experience. This mission is inherently tied to the vision and values of our founders and sponsors, the Sisters of the Holy Cross.”
President Katie Conboy said in a Tuesday email to to faculty, staff, and students that the Board of Trustees “fully supports” the new policy.
“This confidence from our Board underscores their commitment that as an employer, Saint Mary’s must stand firm in its position as an inclusive community leader, and that as educators, we should continue to create an environment where all women belong and thrive,” Conboy wrote.
“We are by no means the first Catholic women’s college to adopt a policy with this scope,” Conboy added. “In drafting the language for this update, I have relied on the guidance of the Executive Team and others to ensure that our message is not only in line with best practices for today’s college students, but that it also encompasses our commitment to operate as a Catholic women’s college.”
Saint Mary’s admissions will begin considering transgender applicants in fall 2024, the college president revealed in her email.
Conboy reportedly established a President’s Task Force for Gender Identity and Expression earlier this year, which has been tasked with presenting recommendations for housing considerations, as well as disseminating information surrounding both Catholic identity and women’s college identity.
There are not many active women’s colleges left in the United States. Saint Mary’s is one of less than 40 left in the country — for now.