Cambridge, October 5, 2017 : Murray Edwards College at the Cambridge University, in a first of its kind step, has announced to consider applications from all students who ‘identify’ as female. The college wishes to support students who do not wish to define themselves as either male or female.
According to the official statement released by the college, the move comes from an understanding that asserts that gender is not binary. “Many of us within the college…have concerns that narrow gender identities and the expectations associated with them are damaging both to individuals and to wider society,” it said.
Formerly known as New Hall, Murray Edwards has, up till now, been a women-only Cambridge college.
Transgender students applications are now being taken into account for the 2018 intake. Alternatively, the criteria would also apply to those who wish to transfer to the college during their degree.
Gender issues have been at the centre of popular debates in the recent past. Due to increased attention and awareness, these exists a greater understanding of the complexities of gender in the present societies. The move by the council of Murray Edwards comes as an attempt to open their doors to ‘all exceptional women’.
— Dr Nick Bulmer (@nick_bulmer) October 4, 2017
Dame Barbara Stocking, the president of the Murray Edwards College was quoted by The Guardian as saying, “In order that we remain true to our mission of being open to all exceptional young women we recognize that it is right for anyone who identifies as female, regardless of their born gender, to be able to apply to study with us.”
The institute previously followed the admissions policy applicable to Cambridge University’s two other women-only colleges- Newnham and Lucy Cavendish. According to prevailing policies, these institutes accept applicants who are legally recognized as women.
However, Murray Edwards will now be opening its doors to students who ‘identify’ as a woman at the time of applications and to those applicants who had been identified as male at birth but have ‘taken steps to live in the female gender’.
According to reports, Lucy Cavendish is also expected to espouse a similar change after a council meeting.
The move has garnered mixed responses from the larger community.
On one side, supporters of gender diversity and the transgender community have appreciated the college for their decision. A charity organization, Mermaids took to Twitter to thank the college authorities for “embracing all young women.”
Thank you @Cambridge_Uni for accepting & embracing ALL young women.
Education always wins over ignorance & fear.https://t.co/kf0j51rEqd
— Mermaids (@Mermaids_Gender) October 4, 2017
However, like every coin has two sides, the college authorities have also received significant backlash ever since the formal announcement was made.
The decision has been termed ‘ridiculous’ and ‘illogical’ by several feminists. A former lecturer at Newnham told The Telegraph, “If Murray Edwards really don’t believe that gender is binary, then they really shouldn’t be a single sex college.”
Why have single-sex colleges if admission is based only on ‘self-identity’? https://t.co/3iq2P3YQqI
— Feminist Current (@FeministCurrent) October 4, 2017
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