On November 30, the Trinity College Meeting (TCM) held its fourth meeting of the year, in which the members successfully passed an electoral policy amendment to degender each year’s head of college positions. 

The same amendment further outlined changes to aspects of college elections policy, removing rules that previously restricted election results from being posted online until one hour after polls close. The amendment also removes the restriction on waiting to advertise these results until three hours after polls close.

Proposed changes to head positions

Trinity College’s overall head of college positions, as well as the head of arts and non-resident affairs positions, are gendered into “male” and “female” heads. The proposed amendment would have thereby removed the words ‘male’ and ‘female’ from the titles, explaining that the current system “prevents individuals who do not conform to the pre-existing gender binary from running in these positions.”

While the TCM discussed this amendment at length, some expressed concerns about the proposal to degender those overall positions, noting that it would be difficult to ensure appropriate  representation of different genders if the positions were degendered. As a result, the motion was ultimately shelved.

However, the TCM did pass a motion to degender each year’s heads — which traditionally included two resident and two non-resident heads per year, a “male” and “female” year head for each category. It passed, in part, because the overall head positions are viewed as more important than each year’s head positions.

Degendering of year heads positions

Each year’s head of college positions are elected every spring, and they represent the interests of students in their year. The change would mandate that the positions remain degendered throughout the election cycle so that people of any gender identity may run and be elected to the positions. 

President of Rainbow Trin, an organization that represents LGBTQ+ Trinity students, Keenan Krause, wrote to The Varsity that the degendering of each year’s heads “is a valuable step to increase the inclusion of all Trinity students, irrespective of their gender identity and expression.”

“I hope this policy change encourages new debates and proposals that continue removing barriers that limit any student’s involvement in our community,” he added.

The previous policy in place stated that no two people of the same gender identity could occupy the role at the same time. However, the legality of the previous policy was called into question, as well as whether these elections would be permitted to continue in future years should the previous policy not be discontinued.

“It could become a point where the college administration refuses to let us run those elections,” Chief Returning Officer Sterling Mancuso said to attendees, “and that’s not something that is worth fighting over; that is as inconsequential [to] the requirements for the heads positions.” 

The motion comes at a time when members of student governance and administration are rethinking their previous approaches to inclusivity, including the recent implementation of a First-Year Committee (FYC) to encourage increased participation in student governance from new and diverse members of college. 

The motion to degender each year’s head positions was passed by the committee with 20 in favour and four against.