Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By Renee Tedder, Staff Writer
In the wake of other women’s colleges changing their admission policies to include Trans* students, Cedar Crest is in an educational phase to tackle the question of a policy change.
Simmons College, Smith College, and Wellesley College all have policies that now allow female assigned at birth who identify as men and male assigned at birth that identify as women to be accepted to the college. Some of these policy changes have been prompted by student petitions and protest to include Trans* individuals to create a more inclusive environment.
Mary Alice Ozechoski, the Vice President of Student Affairs and Traditional Enrollment, says that the school, “wants to do this right.”
The college is in a very early educational phase that is crucial before an educated conversation can begin. Ozechoski’s main concern is that if and when changes are made, “we want to have support structures” and facilities available to students that may need accommodations. She does not want new students to get here and find no support available to them.
Renovating the historic buildings on campus, if necessary, may prove problematic as the whole building, not just certain areas, would have to be brought up to code. This could be a costly endeavor. However, Ozechoski seems hopeful, but without the initial education piece, the college cannot discuss changes.
Turner Vasil, a senior who is a trans man, said that he started to transition during his time at Cedar Crest. He said, “I didn’t really publicly transition until I transferred to EUP [spring of sophomore year], and continued to live openly as trans once I returned to Cedar Crest [fall of junior year]. That was when I started asking people to use my preferred name and pronouns.”
When Vasil started to come out to people, he found that he created stronger bonds with some of his friends while others did not want to associate with him anymore. He found that talking to Counseling Services did not help with his situation.
Vasil also expressed fear regarding talking to someone about accommodations because, “[T]his is a women’s campus, so I feel like it doesn’t matter what I want because I don’t even really belong here since I am not a woman. I tried to get Res Life to understand that I can’t have a roommate because it makes me uncomfortable, but I still [had] one [until recently].”
Despite this, Vasil expressed that Cedar Crest has been extremely helpful to him. He said, “I never would have come out if I hadn’t had the initial support to be a strong individual. I’ve made the best friends of my life here, and it’s been my home for three going on four years now”
A Kutztown student, who asked not to be named, said that he experienced mostly support when he came out at the beginning of last semester. “All of my professors, except one, accepted my choice of pronouns and preferred name. One even opened up to me about a trans loved one. Because my school is much larger, I felt isolated from other students. I felt like I stuck out even if they didn’t exactly know me from before. I had always stayed to myself, but now I felt like I was forced to.” The experiences at a larger co-ed college differ from Cedar Crest, but allow for more anecdotal information on what prospective student might need.
As we gather these stories and educate ourselves on these topics, we can create a place to start from to have a conversation. Beginning with terms and with Ally training is an excellent start for any beginner. These allow us to get past being confused about what words to use and we can make progress together as a community.