On Saturday, October 18 a group of students at Smith College met with the Board of Trustees to discuss the school's refusal to adopt an admissions policy for transgender women. Students who attended the meeting told BuzzFeed News that the Board — which will be making the final decision on the issue — wants to take a full year to decide on whether or not to create a concrete admissions policy.
"Unfortunately, the Board revealed at this meeting that they see this as a matter of a difference of opinion between those who support trans womens' inclusion and those who do not," organizers told BuzzFeed News. "The first class of students who could apply to Smith under an inclusive policy would be 2020."
The Smith Q&A student group organized a demonstration days ahead of the October 18 meeting. According to those present, many students from the college showed up who weren't involved in the organization, and there were even some students from the surrounding Five Colleges consortium in Massachusetts.
"Q&A wanted to welcome the trustees to campus in preparation for their meeting with us on Saturday morning," they said.
But the meeting did not go as students hoped. Not only did the Board of Trustees prolong its official decision, but the board also apparently barred Justin Kilian, a transgender woman from UMass Amherst who's also a Smith Q&A member, from attending the meeting. Kilian was then referred to as "he" during the meeting.
According to students who were at the meeting and a blog post written about it afterwards, members of the Board also asked "unnecessarily invasive" questions and one Trustee said she "wanted to be a 'Devil's advocate' in this discussion."
When BuzzFeed News reached out to Smith for a comment, Stacey Schmeidel, the Director of Media Relations, said, "The Board is studying the issue this year. It has announced no particular timeline for its deliberations."
"This is unacceptable, because students have been pushing for this for over ten years," members of Smith Q&A told BuzzFeed News. "They've already decided to allow trans women, there is a trans woman attending Smith right now; the debate has already happened. What we need is a new policy so that applying as a trans woman isn't next to impossible."
Students plan to hold another rally on Saturday, Oct. 25 during the college's annual family weekend.
"We are sick of Smith bureaucracy refusing to recognize the urgency of this matter, or to make trans women a priority," Justin Killian, a member of Smith Q&A, wrote in a blog post. "We are sick of Smith bureaucracy refusing to acknowledge the voices of those affected by their policy in discussion. We are sick of being asked the same offensive questions about 'male socialization' and 'men pretending to be women' over and over again."
Here are 19 photos from Thursday's demonstration, taken by student Carolyn Brown:
Krystie Yandoli is an entertainment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Krystie Lee Yandoli at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.