Students’ Petition Prompts Smith College’s Announcement to Address Transgender Admissions

Students with Smith Q&A delivered more than 4,000 signatures to Smith College’s Director of Admissions, Deb Shaver.
Photo: Smith Q&A
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Students with Smith Q&A delivered more than 4,000 signatures to Smith College’s Director of Admissions, Deb Shaver.  Photo: Smith Q&A

Students with Smith Q&A delivered more than 4,000 signatures to Smith College’s Director of Admissions, Deb Shaver.
Photo: Smith Q&A

Petition, which was delivered to Smith’s Director of Admissions by student group Smith Q&A, was started after Smith College refused to consider the application of a transgender woman from Connecticut; Smith College announced that it will be convening a committee to address trans-related admissions issues, and told members of Smith Q&A that it will stop considering gender markers on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – After more than 4,000 people signed a petition on Change.org started by Smith College student group Smith Q&A, the College announced that it will be re-examining their admissions policies regarding transgender applicants.

Smith Q&A, an on-campus group that focuses on raising awareness about transgender issues at Smith College, with support from GLAAD, has been pressuring Smith College to end transgender discrimination in admissions, after the College refused to consider the application of a transgender high school student from Connecticut named Calliope Wong.

Students with Smith Q&A delivered more than 4,000 signatures to Smith College’s Director of Admissions, Deb Shaver. At the delivery, Dean of Admissions Shaver announced that a committee will be formed to further address and study issues related to admissions for transgender applicants to Smith College. The committee will start meeting in September, once the new academic year begins.

Students with Smith Q&A also held an informal meeting with Admissions staff, where the students said they were also told that Smith College will stop using the gender marker on the FAFSA form in evaluating transgender candidates for admission. [pullquote]”No young woman should be denied the opportunity to learn simply because of who she is,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz.[/pullquote]

“The more than 4,000 signatures on our Change.org petition show that support for treating trans women equally in Smith College’s admissions practices is strong, both within and outside of our school,” said Smith student Elli Palmer. “As a committee forms to address this issue, we will continue to advocate for a clear policy from Smith that fully protects trans women applicants from unfair and discriminatory obstacles during the admissions process.” [pullquote]”That Smith is having this discussion and listening to the community is a positive step, but the school still needs to ensure that no transgender woman is denied the chance to apply,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz.[/pullquote]

Students with Smith Q&A said that the engagement by administrators at Smith College could set a national precedent for how colleges and universities work with transgender applicants.

“No young woman should be denied the opportunity to learn simply because of who she is,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “That Smith is having this discussion and listening to the community is a positive step, but the school still needs to ensure that no transgender woman is denied the chance to apply. Then, Smith will once again be blazing trails for women and setting an example for educational institutions everywhere.”

Live signature totals from Smith Q&A’s campaign: www.change.org/smithadmissions

For more information on Smith Q&A visit: http://smith-q-and-a.tumblr.com/

[From a News Release]