One Small Step for Smith College, One Giant Leap for Women Everywhere

Christina Vara ’16
Contributing Writer

On May 2, the Smith College Board of Trustees finally came to the long-awaited decision to allow all students who identify themselves as women to apply to the college. As I sat in my desk chair and received the email from President McCartney, miles away from home and finishing up a semester studying abroad in Scotland, I couldn’t help but sigh with relief. Finally. I am not a transgender student, but it wasn’t difficult to recognize the immense importance and significance of this academic acceptance or acknowledge that the future of many friends and students will be changed when applying to universities this coming year and onwards.  
However, my relief at this wonderful and momentous occasion for Smithies was slightly tinged with frustration. How is it possible that Smith, an establishment dedicated to the advancement, growth and recognition of the most kick-ass women of the past and present, could have taken so long to realize that transwomen have a place here as well?
In President McCartney’s campus-wide email, she wrote that “we will be called, in changing times, to consider anew how we will choose to be a women’s college,” and as a fellow woman, I couldn’t agree more. Although it has taken a long time to get to this point, women have transformed into highly influential, powerful and significant beings of change. Yes, there are still obstacles we must overcome, and we still fight for the equality that everyone deserves, but the advancement made at Smith that week shows just how resilient and progressive a women’s college can be.
When Smith was founded in 1871, it represented a model for change, to fight against the limitations that were placed on women and their position in the world. It was then, as it is now, an institution in which women choose to define themselves by their own actions and endeavors—not by the expectations of society. And now we can be proud to include transwomen in our fight to a more accepting future at Smith College.
Allowing transwomen to be officially recognized as a part of the Smith community coaxes a smile and an overall sense that Smith is a place ready to embrace the future.
“I think that Smith accepting transgender students that identify as female is a great thing,” said Marissa Vara ’16.  “I think it also accurately depicts the image that Smith has about being a women’s college going forward, because now they are accepting of all people that identify as women.”
The board’s decision has also made an impact on students studying abroad, as Condro Lukitosari ’16, studying at the University of Edinburgh said, “I am really happy that Smith has finally changed its policy and is using self-identity as a way to determine whether or not a student can apply to college.”
Of course, there are other Smith students who have a more nonchalant perspective about the policy change, as Carmen Augusto ‘16 remarked, “To be honest I don’t mind the new admission policy, it doesn’t affect me so I am just cool with it.”
Regardless of how each of us have been impacted by the change to the admissions policy, this decision has added another notch to our belt, another step in the right direction. These changing times call for change everywhere, and to validate our evolution as a society by accepting transwomen is just one success among many more to come. I cannot speak for transgender students about this policy change, but I can confirm that the future of Smith as a women’s college will be a much brighter one because of it. Although I only have one more year at Smith, I look forward to the changes and new faces I will meet when I arrive on campus this September. I couldn’t be more proud to be a woman and share my experiences with my fellow Smithies. Women are women regardless of birth or transition, and I am honored to share this sexual identification with all Smithies, past, present and future.

Leave a Comment