Students at all-female Smith College in Massachusetts have voted to replace references to “she” and “her” in their constitution with gender-neutral terms.
The move is in deference to a growing number of transgender people who feel uncomfortable with female pronouns, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.
The vote applies only to student-government documents, but is welcomed by school staff.
“Smith College is a college for women, and within that there is a place for all kinds of women,” said Brenda Allen, director of institutional diversity, according to the paper.
However, Maureen Mahoney, the dean of the college, said the issue of sex-reassignment surgery raises complex issues the school has not fully addressed.
Nevertheless, she said while Smith is a women’s college and only accepts women, the school has no intention of rejecting students who undergo the surgery while a student.
“There is no mechanism, nor would we want to go around monitoring anyone,” said Mahoney. “It’s a complicated situation, and we’re responding to it and learning at the same time.”
The student initiative was passed by a 50-vote margin in April out of 1,115 votes cast.
It stirred enough controversy to merit a special forum by the student government, the Daily Hampshire Gazette said.
At the meeting, some students said they feared the move could open the door to turning Smith into a co-educational institution.
But that is not likely, insisted Student Government Association President Lindsay Watson.
“I’m flattered that people think the student government has that much influence, which we don’t,” she said.