Smith College is one of the many women’s institutions of higher learning that some years ago traded in its blue-chip Seven Sisters image (Nancy Reagan is a quintessential old-time Smithie) for something more radical-feminista. Now, alas, Smith, located in Northampton, Mass., is better known for militant man-hating than mixers with Yale and Dartmouth. If there’s an issue related to what the women’s-studies types call “gender politics,” Smith is in the thick of it.

For example, last spring the Smith student body, ever alert to the perils of sexism, decided that it was politically incorrect for Smith to refer to itself as a “women’s college.” The reason: “transgendered people”–a label that refers to cross-dressers, hermaphrodites, and those who have had or would like to have a sex-change operation–would feel left out. So the student body voted to replace the words “she” and “her” in the student constitution with the gender-neutral phrase “the student.” As 20-year-old Smithie Jackie Shine, who voted for the amendment, told the Associated Press: “Smith is a place that prides itself on being a comfortable place to explore lots of issues of identity, including gender identity. That’s what colleges in general are for.”

The wording change was the source of much amusement among observers: A women’s college that refused to identify its students as women? So now, a year later, a number of Smithies are having second thoughts, and there’s now a proposal before the Student Senate to change the language in the constitution back to “she” and “her.” The Senate will vote this Tuesday on whether to bring the issue to the student body for a vote.

A campus transgender group, Tangent, which claims 150 members, is dead-set against the amendment. For some reason, Tangent sees the issue as one of “safety” for the trans crowd. “I think that every student on this campus has the right to know that they’ll be taken care of because they’re here regardless of what happens to them, how they identify, how they come to identify after being a Smithie,” Tangent head Lucas Cheadle, a Smithie who’s identifying himself as a “he” these days, told the student newspaper, The Sophian. “So I think that that applies to everybody. It doesn’t just effect trans students. It gives a sense of safety to everyone here, a sense of involvement.”

But other students argue that the whole point of attending a women’s college such as Smith is to take pride in one’s identity as a woman. Smithie Lauren Wolfe, for example, told the Sophian: “The language of Smith College is the reason why I came to this school. Plain and simple.”