St. Mary’s College, a Catholic women’s college in Indiana, has faced a dramatic reversal in its decision to allow transgender applicants. In November, the college made headlines by announcing that it would consider applicants whose sex assigned at birth is female or who consistently live and identify as women starting in 2024. However, this decision quickly sparked a wave of backlash from various perspectives, ultimately leading the college to backtrack on its inclusive admission policy.
Following the initial announcement, St. Mary’s College admitted to losing people’s trust and unintentionally creating division. In an email to faculty, the college’s president, Katie Conboy, confirmed the reversal, stating that the board of trustees had decided to return to its previous policy of only accepting biological women. However, Conboy also defended the transgender admission policy, emphasizing that it reflected the college’s commitment to live Catholic values as an inclusive institution.
In an effort to address the concerns raised and chart a path forward, St. Mary’s College plans to hold listening sessions to explore how to embrace Catholic values as a women’s college in a changing world. This decision reportedly came after meetings between Conboy, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, and Sister M. Veronique, following a statement by Rhoades asserting that the college had departed from Catholic teachings.
The college’s decision to reverse its policy has garnered mixed reactions. While some students and alumni voiced their opposition to the transgender admission policy and even halted their donations to the college, Catholic leaders and organizations have supported the reversal. These groups commended the college for protecting the purpose and integrity of a Catholic women’s college.
However, not all reactions have been in favor of the reversal. Organizations like Faithful America expressed shock and disappointment at the decision, as they had supported the college’s inclusive policy.
The scenario at St. Mary’s College highlights the ongoing challenges that institutions face in navigating issues of inclusivity and tradition. As societal views and understanding of gender continue to evolve, it is inevitable that colleges and universities will grapple with these complex dynamics. The outcome at St. Mary’s College serves as a reminder of the diverse perspectives and tensions that surround these discussions.