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This September, Spelman College announced a progressive new admissions policy that opens the door to a more diverse population of students. Following in the footsteps of Bennett College, who updated their own enrollment criteria in January, the fabled Atlanta institution will now accept applications from trans women— which means that both HBCUs dedicated to the education of Black women have taken this important step.

In response to a handful of Spelman grads who publicly challenged the school’s decision, two scholars decided to create a space for “progressive alumnae” to pledge their support of the new policy.

Via a press release from the Audre Lorde/Bayard Rustin Collective:

“Over 100 Spelman College alumnae signed a pledge in support of the college’s recent decision to admit transwomen students. This pledge serves as an affirmation for the college’s new forward thinking admissions policy and as a commitment to queer and trans students at the institution. The new admissions and enrollment policy at Spelman College states the College “will consider for admission women students including students who consistently live and self-identify as women, regardless of their gender assignment at birth.” In response, the open letter of support states, “We understand that admitting ALL women is not an abandonment of our mission, but rather reflects its fulfillment.”

The letter was initiated by two Spelman alumnae and founding members of the Audre Lorde/Bayard Rustin Collective, a new initiative to promote more inclusive campus climates at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Drs. Anika Simpson and Moya Bailey were inspired to write the letter when they saw a few alumnae vocal in their dissatisfaction for the new policy. They wanted to provide a vehicle for progressive alumnae to demonstrate their support publicly.

The Audre Lorde/Bayard Rustin Collective is a dynamic group of HBCU faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni dedicated to expanding inclusive campuses for our queer and trans community members. The action oriented collective is dedicated to making HBCUs a welcoming space for every member of the Black community The collective’s work is to gather like minded HBCU faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni to implement inclusive policy and create compelling programming at these institutions, through nurturing queer activism and theorizing at HBCUs.”

The Spelman College Alumnae Open Letter can be accessed here: