Women’s colleges accepting self-identified females

By Sophie Fahey '17
Staff Writer

Recently, both Mills College in Oakland, California and Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts changed their acceptance policies to allow applications from all self-identified women. Scripps is currently working on clarifying its own admissions policy.
In Fall 2013, a Gender Identity and Expression Committee was formed at Mills and their policy change was unanimously accepted in the spring. Mills then became the first single-sex college in the United States to begin to accept applications from all self-identified women.
This new policy states that any student who self-identifies as female is now eligible for admission to the college.


It allows students who are legally assigned to the female sex, but who identify as transgender or gender fluid to apply.  Biologically-born men who identify as female or transgender are also able to apply. This policy does not allow females who have undergone a legal change of sex to male prior to the time of application to apply.

Last Tuesday, the president of Mount Holyoke College announced a similar new acceptance policy.

While some believe that these new policies go against the traditional definition and values of a women’s college, both schools have had much prompting and support from their students in creating and implementing these new policies.

Both colleges also hope that this leads to changes in policy in more women’s colleges in the United States.

The Scripps College policy differs from these new policies in that Scripps admits only biologically-born females who identify as women.

“Scripps’ current admissions policy mirrors that of most women’s colleges across the country,” Charlotte Johnson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said. “Specifically, Scripps admits biologically-born females who identify as women. I think that the policy codifies traditional notions of gender identity and I think that the issue of whether the policy should be modified, and related issues, are ripe for discussion among the Scripps community.

President [Lori] Bettison-Varga and her senior team are already discussing the issues and, very soon, we will extend those conversations to the entire Scripps community. It will be important to hear the various perspectives as we move forward.”

“I appreciate the fact that those institutions have moved in a direction consistent with their respective core values,” Johnson said in regards to the new policies of Mills and Mount Holyoke.

An email from President Bettison-Varga went out on Friday, Sept. 12, which directly addressed the ongoing admissions-policy discussions occurring on campus. The email states, “We are all committed to developing a policy that reflects Scripps’ core values and a process that ensures all constituencies’ voices are represented and respected.”