Saint Mary’s approves policy to consider applicants who ‘identify as women’
Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, November 21, 2023
This article was updated at 6:12 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Saint Mary’s non-discrimination policy now states the College considers admission for undergraduate applicants “whose sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women.” The Board of Trustees approved the change on June 23.
In an email sent to faculty, staff and students Tuesday evening, President Katie Conboy said the College is still determining the practices that will follow from the policy. Admissions will begin considering transgender applicants in fall 2024, according to the email.
Earlier this year, Conboy assembled a President’s Task Force for Gender Identity and Expression that will present recommendations for housing considerations and on community education around both Catholic identity and women’s college identity.
“We are by no means the first Catholic women’s college to adopt a policy with this scope,” Conboy wrote. “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.”
The Observer reached out to a Saint Mary’s spokesperson; however, College leadership was unable to comment to The Observer on the matter at the time.
Saint Mary’s is one of fewer than 40 active women’s colleges in the U.S., according to the Women’s College Coalition. The College’s admissions policies are informed by Title IV of the Education Amendments of 1972, which allows for single-sex admissions policies for colleges that historically have served women, according to the non-discrimination policy.
“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.”
Conboy said in the email that the Board “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.