An Ontario university launched a new initiative at their campus gym recently, in hopes of increasing inclusivity. However, not everyone is pleased. Western University just launched women-only hours at their gym, due to religious reasons, and people are actually upset about it.
"Western Student Recreation Centre (WSRC) patrons who identify as women will have a space to themselves, starting this week, thanks to a pilot project looking to promote equitable participation and access to physical activity on campus," announced the university in a news release.
The university hopes to increase inclusivity at the campus gym with the new initiative. The pilot project was launched because the university says they saw a need for women-only space at the gym.
"There was a petition last year that the Women’s Issues Network – one of our branches at the USC – brought to us, mostly from Muslim women stating that there was no women’s only space," said Dunne in the news release. "That was a concern because wearing hijabs or burkas can be limiting in order to access exercise facilities".
The university is hoping the pilot project will allow them to better understand and provide for student needs on campus. "If the students desire and are looking for this, then it is something we will try to do. It’s really important," says Gareth Cunningham, Associate Director of Recreation and Facilities, in the news release.
"We want to be a welcoming and inclusive environment. There are a lot of studies about access to fitness facilities and for women-identifying students being a good thing".
The fourth floor of the Western Student Recreation Centre (WSRC) will now become a women-only space every Tuesday and Thursday, between 2:30 PM and 4:30 PM. This will be in effect for the whole Winter Term at Western. The space will be open to anyone who self-identifies as female.
Women who wear hijabs and burkas will be able to remove coverings once they reach the fourth floor of the gym's women's only space. The area will not be visible to the rest of the gym so that women can feel comfortable removing their hijabs and burkas.
The women-only time will only take up two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and only affect one out of four floors at the WSRC, meaning there are still tons of other workout spaces available for everyone at Western. It will also allow more women to feel comfortable working out at the gym and increase inclusivity. However, this move by Western has already sparked backlash online.
People have actually taken to Reddit to voice their opinions and criticize the new initiative from Western, especially because one of the reasons for the pilot project is religious. Check out what they have had to say.
To find out more about Western's new women-only hours at the WSRC, you can read the full announcement on the university's website.