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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Students speak out against dress code policy

Junior Raven Gelder tweeted on June 7: “Lmao @WWU thx for kicking my friend out of the gym bc her ‘midriff was showing.'” Annie Robertson, pictured, a guest at the rec center, was unaware of the dress code policy, Gelder said. // Photo courtesy of Raven Gelder

By Sabrina Batingan

Junior Henry Watts was wearing a crop top that ended right at the bottom of their rib cage during an XPass class. These classes welcome students to tryout any class during the first week of the quarter for free. At the break, the instructor told Watts they were not allowed to wear tops that show midriff. Since it was the only shirt Watts had available, Watts was allowed to stay, but it was made clear that they could not wear the top again.

“It’s especially frustrating for someone who is gender fluid,” Watts said. “There’s some times where I’d rather wear something more feminine. It’s the double standard that is most frustrating. The dudes are shirtless on the basketball court while the rest of us can’t even wear crop tops, which seems a little unfair,” Watts said.

There are signs upstairs in the rec center that say “Keep your sweat to yourself.” Many students though, either do not see these or aren’t remembering that they are there.

“I haven’t seen [the signs] personally,” senior Thomas Goldingay said. “When it comes to basketball, it’s always shirts versus skins, that’s what guys usually play. I can see that being a double standard for women,” he said.

Administration allows men to be shirtless and women to expose their torso on the basketball courts, but not while working out in other areas of the center. Some students feel they are not allowed to wear what makes them comfortable upstairs while working out.

Senior Luxie Bell Duffy said there aren’t many fans near the treadmills and not being able to wear less clothing while sweating is uncomfortable and frustrating.

On the rec center website, the dress code states that shirt, shoes, and pants are required at all times except for the pool. Student staff are not allowed to comment on the dress code policy without permission from the director of the facility, Bob Hofstetter.

The policies regarding attire are for “sanitary concerns,” Hofstetter said in an email. They are to make sure that the facility and equipment stay as clean as possible. “The Rec Center policies regarding attire are specific to areas, not gender,” Hofstetter said. “We do not view usage in the different facility areas as exclusive to one gender or another. Women are able to use the courts in clothing that shows their torso.”

In the Wade King Student Recreation Center, it is not uncommon to see shirtless men on the basketball courts as well as baring their skin in muscle tanks in the weight room. // Photo by Jessica Vangel

The dress code policy states: “Clothing: minimum workout attire must consist of athletic closed-toe shoes, a shirt covering the torso (horizontally and vertically) from the bottom of the chest down; bottoms covering the gluteal crease.”

Facility policies are posted in the lower weight room and upstairs in the cardio area. They are primarily enforced by student area attendants, Hofstetter said.

Bell Duffy was made uncomfortable by a student employee for wearing a bikini in the rec center hot tub. A youth basketball camp was in progress on the other side of a glass divider that separated the basketball courts from the hot tub and pool area.

Bell Duffy said she and a friend were approached by a female lifeguard who gestured at their attire and said, “there are children here.”

“It makes me feel apprehensive to go back,” Bell Duffy said. “The gym is a place where people work on themselves, and if I feel like I’m being scrutinized for the clothes I am wearing, that’s not OK. I don’t want any other woman to be disrespected, mistreated, or shamed for what they are wearing.”

Members of administration are in the process of evaluating policies, Hofstetter said.

“We are currently reviewing multiple facility policies, including appropriate attire, against industry standards,” Hofstetter said. The new policies will be published online and posted in the rec center fall quarter 2018 after being reviewed this summer.

Watts said that it shouldn’t be up to the administration to tell students what they can and cannot wear to a gym. If a student wants to wear less to be comfortable it should be on them to choose what they can wear and take responsibility with cleaning up after themselves, Watts said.

“If it’s a thing about sweat, then put that responsibility on the people who decide to wear a more skin revealing outfit, but don’t take that option away,” Watts said. “Make [the dress code policy] available and make it so that we are all playing by the same rules.”


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