Students and Alumni react to Saint Mary’s updated policy to consider applicants who identify as women

NOW: Students and Alumni react to Saint Mary’s updated policy to consider applicants who identify as women

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Saint Mary’s College is one of less than 30 all women’s colleges left in the country, and for the first time since opening their doors in 1844 the Catholic Private institution has opened up admission to all who identify as women.

The College’s Board of Trustees updated the non-discrimination policy back in June, which states they will consider admission for undergraduate applicants who were born as female at birth or live and identify as women.

Students say the change went under the radar until earlier this week, when a right-wing group that has not been recognized by the institution as a club, Turning Point USA at Saint Mary’s, realized the updated policy and took to their social media to share the news.

"They did so behind the backs of the student body, and it was only recently discovered after us students found it on the website. I attended Saint Mary's because it was a catholic all women's college, it's now neither of those things in my opinion,” said the group’s president Claire Bettag a junior at SMC.

Bettag says she and other students with similar beliefs fear what the changes will mean for the campus and shared living spaces.

That post now has almost 400 comments, sparking all kinds of reactions from students, alumni, and parents.

With some using Catholicism to both condemn and justify the policy.

"I think it's amazing. It makes me really proud to be an alum of my college. I think it's only continuing to move the college along,” said a queer alum, Mackenzie Rizzo in support of the change.

"I fully agree. The Catholic tradition is that you love your neighbor as you love yourself and you want what is best for people and not judge people because they are different than you, so I think the college doing this is only continuing the Catholic teachings they have been preaching for hundreds of years,” Rizzo added.

ABC57 reached out to Saint Mary’s for comment but did not hear back.

Some groups on campus said they did not feel “safe” speaking on the issue.

Tuesday evening, President Katie Conboy shared the news of the change with students via an email, that she said was original slated when classes returned following Thanksgiving break.

She stated she believes the change respects and advances all women.

The email goes on to say the college is still determining the practices that will follow from this policy.

You can read President Conboy's email below.

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