The women's-only college announced the policy changes on Tuesday, which was initially approved during a meeting in June, according to The Observer.
President Katie Conboy sent an email to faculty and staff, according to the outlet, that stated: "Saint Mary's will consider undergraduate applicants whose sex assigned at birth is female or who consistently live and identify as women."
Ms. Conboy informed faculty that the College is still working to determine the best practices for admittance and that first acceptance will come during the Fall 2024 semester.
The decision comes after Conboy established the President's Task Force on Gender Identity and Expression earlier this year. The group is tasked with making suggestions regarding housing issues and community education regarding women's college identities and Catholic identity.
"We are by no means the first Catholic women’s college to adopt a policy with this scope," Conboy wrote in the email. "In drafting the language for this update, I have relied on the guidance of the Executive Team and others to ensure that our message is not only in line with best practices for today’s college students, but that it also encompasses our commitment to operate as a Catholic women’s college."
A Saint Mary's College spokesperson told Newsweek that its Board of Trustees approved the updated policy back in June to reflect the College's "non-discrimination" ideals.
"On June 23, the College's Board of Trustees approved an update to the Saint Mary's non-discrimination policy. This update includes a shift in our language about who we will consider for admission as well as about how we will support employees across the continuum of gender expression" the spokesperson told the outlet.
"In terms of admission, beginning in fall 2024, Saint Mary's will consider undergraduate applicants whose legal sex is female or who consistently live and identify as women," they added.
Conboy said in the email that the Board "fully supports" the updated policy and wrote: "This confidence from our Board underscores their commitment that as an employer, Saint Mary’s must stand firm in its position as an inclusive community leader, and that as educators, we should continue to create an environment where all women belong and thrive."
As per the Women's College Coalition, Saint Mary's is among the less than forty active women's institutions in the United States. The non-discrimination policy states that the College's admissions procedures are guided by Title IV of the Education Amendments of 1972, which permits institutions that have traditionally catered to women to have single-sex admissions procedures.
Riley Gaines, an activist dedicated to protecting women's sports from the invasion of trans-identified biological men, told the Daily Signal: "In the name of empowering women, St. Mary's has abandoned women."
"It would be comical if there weren't real consequences women have to endure. Men would not put up with this mistreatment and gaslighting for a second. It’s time women take back our spaces, our opportunities, and our language," Gaines said.
Claire Bettag, a junior student at Saint Mary's, slammed the decision as "blasphemous."
"St. Mary's College is no longer Catholic," Bettag told The Daily Signal. "It is no longer a women's institution. This is fraudulent misrepresentation at best. Every student should be entitled to a refund for fraudulent misrepresentation. An attorney should file a class action lawsuit against the college. They have abandoned their faith, and they've abandoned the women. No woman should be forced to share a bathroom or living quarters with a man."
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