Originally published: Jan. 14, 2013, 2:45 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 14, 2013, 5:18 p.m.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Controversy has erupted on the campus of the all-female Salem College following an email from an upset alumna who says a male transgender student attending school wants to remain there to complete his studies after undergoing gender reassignment surgery next month, The Winston-Salem Journal reported on Jan. 11.
Salem College was founded in 1772 by Moravians and is now a four-year liberals-arts women’s school with enrollment of over 1,000 students. Men who are over 23-years-old take courses there through the Fleer Center for Adult Education, but are not permitted to live on campus.
Concerns have been expressed by alumnae, such as Annie Webb who graduated in 2005, that the school might become a coed campus. An email from Webb obtained by the Journal included information about the alleged transgender student. Web comments on the Journal website from users claiming they are students say the facts of the story are not true and are instead rumor.
“The board will not consider becoming a coed institution,” the college’s trutees’ chairman Charles Blixt told the Journal. “This is the oldest women’s college in the country, and we intend to remain so.”
Harper Jane Tobin, director of policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., felt that the “male student should remain at Salem College. … It’s not fair to punish someone who has come to terms about who they truly are.”
College President Susan Pauly has sent an email to alumnae on the subject asking them, “In light of our mission to educate women, how do you view the issue of transgender students in the traditional college program at Salem?” At press time, the situation was under review by the board of trustees.
As a religious institution, Salem College is exempt from Title IX which prohibits discrimination based upon gender.
The question surfaces after several public institutions in the University of North Carolina System began considering gender-neutral housing options last fall. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s board of trustees approved an inclusive housing policy which will go into effect next school year.