Barnard College Reviewing Admissions Policies and In Talks to Accept Transgender Students

Barnard College may soon join ranks with other women only colleges accepting transgender students according to the school’s president, Debra L. Spar as changes to the policy for admission to the school are being considered.

President Spar wrote a letter to her students just last week to inform them that Barnard College was in the process of reviewing new admissions policies that will enable students identifying as transgender to attend the liberal arts college. In her letter to students, President Spar wrote, “The time has come for us to examine how we, as a women’s college, define ‘women,’ and how, consequently, we both admit and graduate students.”

The main admissions issue under review according to the administrators at the college, is how to appropriately review and process new applications from potential students identifying as transgender. Essentially, it boils down to determining if students who were born biologically male, but identify as female, belong at the college that has only accepted women since it was founded in 1889.

Barnard College spokeswoman, Joanne Kwong, says of the need to reassess the admissions policy “The definition of what it means to be a women a a women’s college – that’s changing. The implications range from housing to health services to the pronouns used in class.”

The current process for admitting transgender students is based on each application that comes through the admissions office and on an individual case basis. There aren’t currently any students attending the college identifying as transgender females, but many students identifying as transgender males or neutral, according to Kwong.

There have been longstanding definitions of gender and views on admittance at colleges with only a single gender student body. These policies have been subject to massive changes recently as the amount of students applying grows and as more students openly and proudly declare themselves to be transgender females or males.

The progressive changes in admissions policies at Mount Holyoke College, Mills College and most recently Scripps College have also prompted other women’s only colleges to reevaluate their views on what it means to be female and how to accommodate students appropriately to ensure they are not excluded in any way . The changes at these colleges now allow students identifying as female to apply and actually be considered for admissions, regardless of the gender listed at birth and without the unnecessary asterisks that is often attached to transgender individuals.

As of now, there isn’t a date set for when and if new admissions policies will be added to Barnard’s charter, but a dialogue will remain open during the coming months with town hall style meetings. The ultimate decision will be made by the board of trustees at the school, according to the letter sent out by President Spar.

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