A Letter from Bryn Mawr Board Chair Arlene Gibson

Posted February 9th, 2015 at 1:47 pm.

February 9, 2015

To All Members of the Bryn Mawr Community:

During its meetings this past weekend, the College’s Board of Trustees discussed and approved a recommendation from a Board working group that was created at the September 2014 Board meeting to examine the mission of the College with respect to transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming applicants.

The five trustee members of the working group read extensively through materials representing diverse perspectives, including all items suggested by community members; reviewed comments from individual community members, alumnae/i, and campus gatherings; requested and attended meetings with students, faculty, staff, and the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions; and consulted legal experts. Over the course of their many meetings, the working group examined the mission of the College as defined from its founding to the present and discussed the gender identities and expressions that are encompassed in that mission.

The working group concluded unanimously that the mission of the College at the undergraduate level is to educate women to be future leaders. In its recommendation to the Board, the working group noted that Bryn Mawr’s identity as a women’s college is fundamental to its distinctive environment, one in which women are central, faculty assume and expect excellence from women, and women assume positions of leadership. The working group also recommended that the College use language that affirms our institutional identity as a women’s college (e.g. use of gendered language) while respecting the diversity of individual identities in the community.

The working group also proposed that the College more clearly articulate the eligible undergraduate applicant pool in the context of its mission. The Board approved the working group’s recommendation that in addition to those applicants who were assigned female at birth, the applicant pool will be inclusive of transwomen and of intersex individuals who live and identify as women at the time of application. Intersex individuals who do not identify as male are also eligible for admission. Those assigned female at birth who have taken medical or legal steps to identify as male are not eligible for admission.

In cases where an applicant’s gender identity is not clearly reflected in their application materials, the College may request additional information, which could include verifiable legal or medical steps taken to affirm gender. In evaluating such additional information, the College fully intends to be as flexible and inclusive as possible.

Within the context of our mission as a women’s college, all Bryn Mawr students will continue to be valued and supported members of the community, no matter how their gender identity shifts during their time at the College.

Policies and practices to implement the College’s mission will now be carried out by faculty and administrative staff.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire Bryn Mawr community, I wish to express my gratitude to the members of the working group who labored tirelessly to develop this recommendation.

Sincerely yours,

Arlene Joy Gibson ’65
Chair, Board of Trustees

Filed under: Admissions,Students,Trustees Tags: by mgray

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