News | Student Life

Students frustrated with segmentation of community at Barnard trans admissions forums

  • Giulia Olsson / Senior Staff Photographer
    Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard | Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard reached out to Barnard President Debora Spar on Sunday requesting that the forum lift restrictions on attendees.
  • Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard | Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard reached out to Barnard President Debora Spar on Sunday requesting that the forum lift restrictions on attendees.
  • Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard | Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard reached out to Barnard President Debora Spar on Sunday requesting that the forum lift restrictions on attendees.

Some students and faculty members are frustrated that Thursday’s town hall on Barnard’s transgender admissions policy will only be open to Barnard students and alumni.

Barnard President Debora Spar announced last week that the forums would not be open to the press or external audiences—including Columbia students—“to ensure that everyone can speak freely.” While additional town halls will accommodate Barnard faculty and staff, Thursday’s forum is only open to Barnard students and “alumnae,” Spar said in her email.

Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard reached out to Spar’s office on Sunday asking that the restrictions be lifted. The group said that the policies on who can attend the forums excludes many—including transgender women—from the conversation.

“A group of people that are really important to hear from are trans women and trans girls who are interested in applying to Barnard,” Caleb LoSchiavo, BC ’15 and a member of Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard, said. “They are the most important here because they are the people who want to be in the space but are prohibited.”

A Barnard spokesperson, however, said in an email that the college sees the town hall as a way for “those within the Barnard community have the opportunity to speak and be heard, as well as have their opinions relayed to the Board of Trustees.”

“Logistically, it would be difficult to accommodate a wider audience, while still prioritizing Barnards own voices. If members of the broader Columbia University wish to express their thoughts, we welcome their input through the online form,” the spokesperson said.

Robbie Lyman, CC ’15 and a member of Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard and Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, said that while he understands the administration’s reasoning, he believes the policy affects more than just those considered within the Barnard community.

“Since Barnard currently can’t enroll trans women, I think it would have made a lot of sense to have them open to have the town halls open to Columbia IDs as well so trans women of Columbia or alumnae could have participated,” Lyman said.

Janet R. Jakobsen, a professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Barnard, said that the exclusion of trans women poses problems.

“I do think that the question of trans women’s voices within the conversation is real,” Jakobsen said. “Making social change without hearing from the people whom are either excluded by an exclusionary policy or whom are variously made unequal tends to replicate rather than alleviate the problems of exclusion and inequality.”

The six town halls are also segmented—the Feb. 3 and Feb. 10 meetings will be open only to Barnard faculty and staff, the Feb. 9 meeting and a virtual meeting on Feb. 10 will be open to parents and alumni, and the Thursday and the Feb. 16 meetings will be open to students and alumni.

Dylan Kapit, BC ’16 and a member of Students for a Trans-Inclusive Barnard, said that they think that the divide reflects the monetary influence of various groups at Barnard.

“We [students] are the ones who are like, ‘Let’s make this change,’” Kapit said. “We are not the ones who are putting money into the system and funding the school we want to change.”

Barnard Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence Jennifer Finney Boylan, who is a trans woman, said that though she would like to see Barnard adopt an all-inclusive approach to transgender admissions—as has been adopted at Mount Holyoke College and Mills College—Barnard’s unique relationship with Columbia will require a college-specific approach.

“I hope that we get there [to a trans-inclusive admissions policy], but it is right and proper for us to get there in a slow, deliberative, and respectful process,” Boylan said. “I hope that whatever we’re doing right now will reflect that.”

Teo Armus contributed reporting.

 

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Anonymous posted on

I am a straight cis male, will anyone champion might right to attend Barnard, a place I am currently unable to join merely because of who I am. Even if this policy changes, I will still be denied access to Barnard based solely on my sexual orientation and assumed gender.

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Identity politics rules!! posted on

Dude, if Barnard votes to become coed by admitting so called "trans-women", all you have to do is claim you identify as a chick and you're in! Identity politics is the biggest scam of our generation. I'm white but I plan to apply for a shit ton of race and gender restricted scholarships next year claiming I identify as a lesbian African-American woman. It's like winning a trifecta at the track! And the best part is that nobody can call me on it! If I say I identify as a black woman...I'm a black woman! :-)

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BigDaddy posted on

You are correct regarding all this "gender" nonsense, just one big freakshow, nothing more. Gender fluid is the new nonsensical term created by America hating leftists with a hatred for American culture and traditions. You should apply a for those scholarships as you stated, and if denied, file a lawsuit. In fact, we should start a movement for this exact thing!

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BC '15 posted on

This isn't a CC/SEAS/GS/grad school etc issue. Because this is the cutting edge to activism CC/etc undergrads wants to get involved, but when it comes to actually accepting BC students into the "4 colleges 1 university" bs some people try to push BC-ers get nothing but hate and misogynistic comments made about them/us and the school we chose to attend. If anybody should have been invited to the forum, other than BC students and alums, it should be trans women who are looking to apply to colleges, or trans women who can speak to their experiences and the impact matriculation into a women's college would have had on their lives and identities (which was a good point brought up in this article).
The issue is hearing the voices of trans women at these forums at that is all. It would not have "have made a lot of sense to have... the town halls open to Columbia IDs" because this ins't an issue that pertains to the schools of Columbia's endowment and trustees. The decision falls on Barnard's trustees, and potential Barnard (trans) students along with current and alum BC students voices should be heard the most. Not CC/SEAS/etc.

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Anonymous posted on

A woman who wants to be a woman: accepted
A woman who wants to be a man: accepted
A man who wants to be a woman: accepted
A man who wants to be a man: rejected.

When will Barnard grow up and just open the doors to everyone? Won't that solve your problem? It's the Island of Manhattan, not the island of Lesbos. And no man (or woman) can be an island anymore.

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