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Harvard tries "women-only" hours at the gym

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Armueller2001, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Armueller2001


    Sep 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    BOSTON - In a test of Harvard's famed open-mindedness, the university has banned men from one of its gyms for a few hours a week to accommodate Muslim women who say it offends their sense of modesty to exercise in front of the opposite sex.

    The policy is already unpopular with many on campus, including some women who consider it sexist.

    "I think that it's incorrect in a college setting to institute a policy in which half of the campus gets wronged or denied a resource that's supposed to be for everyone," said student Lucy Caldwell, who also wrote a column in The Harvard Crimson newspaper critical of the new hours.

    Student Ola Aljawhary, who is Muslim and works out elsewhere on campus but is not one of the women who requested the change, rejected that argument.

    "The majority should be willing to compromise," she said. "I think that's just basic courtesy. We must show tolerance and respect for all others."

    The trial policy went into effect Feb. 4, about a month after a group of six Muslim women, with the support of the Harvard College Women's Center, asked the university for the special hours, spokesman Robert Mitchell said.

    "We get special requests from religious groups all the time and we try to honor them whenever possible," he said, noting that the school has designated spaces for Muslim and Hindu students to pray.

    No men are allowed in the gym between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Mondays, and between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Even the staff during those times is all women.

    The special hours allow the Muslim women, who adhere to traditional dress codes by covering their hair and most of their skin while in public, to dress more appropriately for exercising, said Susan Marine, director of the women's center.

    "It's a pretty big breach of their moral and religious code for a man to see them with their hair uncovered and it's just not possible for them to be in a mixed environment," she said.

    When student Kareem Shuman showed up to work out at the gym on Monday, he was turned away but didn't mind.

    "Knowing it was requested by women of my faith — it's very understandable to me," said Shuman, 21, who figured he'd just come back later for his workout.

    Other men find the new hours inconvenient. Nick Wells, a junior who wrote an opinion piece in the Crimson criticizing the policy, suggested setting aside one room for women.

    "It's not that I am opposed to the idea of helping people in religious groups or women in general, but I just think Harvard is not being fair to people like me who live (near the gym)," Wells said in an interview.

    The policy only applies to one gym, a facility mainly used for intramurals. Because of its location at the edge of campus, it is the university's least used gym, Mitchell said.

    The women-only hours are of minimal inconvenience because they are just six out of the 70 hours a week the gym is open, Marine said.

    "Harvard has a moral and ethical responsibility to make sure our students can stay healthy," she said.

    An Associated Press reporter who went to the gym Monday did not see any Muslim women entering. Efforts to reach some of the women who requested the policy through the Women's Center were unsuccessful.

    The policy will be reviewed at the end of the semester, Mitchell said.

    Kent Blumenthal, executive director of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, which has 660 member colleges and universities nationwide, said he could not think of any other institution with a similar policy.

    "It seems in some ways contrary to the purpose of campus recreational programs, which is all about access," he said.

    Harvard's policy is no different from commercial gyms that cater partially or even exclusively to women, said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.

    "The Muslim bashers portray it as the world coming to end, but if women have a couple hours a week to work out in private, I don't see it as a major issue," he said.

  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I have seen women's only gym hours in several settings where religion was not a factor at all. Since Harvard has more than one facility, and the one that has women's only hours doesn't do it all the time, I don't see it as a terrible loss for men.
  3. Lets make a men's only time and see hoe well it is received. This is more than rediculous. As a Christian I am offended that evolution is taught, are you going to start making changes for me? How about the Rastas that have to cut their hair to work with food? I say that if you are going to take God out of the pledge, then stop making all these changes to apease all the minorities.

  4. bassaficionado6

    bassaficionado6 Something about gumption

    Jan 7, 2008
    Napa, CA
    Although I'm not religious... +1.
  5. I think it's a good idea, it's barely an inconvenience for anyone. There should be respect for other cultures and intolerance is just another factor to why the world sucks so much right now.

    And making a men's only time? It's not about gender, this is their religion, not just because some girls don't want to be seen by guys while they are working out.
  6. Chriss62


    Jul 24, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    "Until the philosophy, which hold one race superior and another inferior, is finally, and permanently, discredited and abandoned, well everywhere is war."
  7. Armueller2001


    Sep 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    hmm well what if MY religion said that homosexuals couldn't watch me work out... would they have a "strait people only" time?
  8. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I suppose if all Christians felt this way then a change would be made. Most are able to reconcile their faith with evolution. I know many of my professors did.

    At the swimming pool I used as a kid they had different hours for different groups (young kids, the elderly etc) and left the peak hours for "free swim".

    I don't see why it's a problem with a gym, especially if (like my college) they have more than one workout facility. These accommodations should be made during non-peak hours (since they are the ones asking for special treatment) but other than that I don't see why it's a big deal.
  9. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    If you don't like being around homosexual men then I'd suggest that the gym is a bad place to be period.
  10. Armueller2001


    Sep 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    if Muslim women don't like being around men, then maybe the gym is a bad place to be. I guess since Harvard is a private university they can do whatever they want legally, but if it were a state funded, it would be a HUGE separation of church/state issue
  11. So you agree with the islamic law inthe middle east that says that women can't travel without a male relitive or that that can't vote and own property? After all it is their religion. Where does the line get drawn? I agree with minority rights, but the way this is going they are ignoring that rights of the majority.

  12. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I don't like special interests. Blech. Oh well, I don't go there.
  13. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Then again, there's a reason why women's only gyms like "Curves" and the other one I don't recall at the moment are successful. A lot of women like working out without men around. If they were asking for a Muslim women only gym time then I'd probably against it as well. It's a thin line.

    That said, if they wanted it, I would have zero problem with guys at Harvard asking for "men only" hours as well. Fair is fair.
  14. Fair is fair, but in this case I am sure that there would be a double standard.

  15. Hawaii Islander

    Hawaii Islander Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2007
    Rio Rico, AZ
    It's not that uncommon for colleges and universities to adjust policies to meet the needs of groups with special needs, be it for religious reasons, cultural reasons or physical disabilities reasons. This is no different. IMV
  16. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    the problem here is your are trying to make a comparison between islamic ruled countries which follow the rule of the quran as law and accommodations being made simply for the comfort of a group of people.
  17. Chriss62


    Jul 24, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    I don't agree with Muslim or Christian opinions, but I respect their right to be able to live ther lives how they want, free of oppression.
  18. Armueller2001


    Sep 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    I'm not really bothered by Curves and all that. I think the fact that its a University bothers me, although its not public. "Sorry, you have a penis, you can't enter..." seems a little sexist to me, no matter WHAT the reasoning is behind it.
  19. shamrock&roll


    Feb 14, 2007
    It is their culture. The western way of thinking is to change everyone into our way of thinking, but the East and the Middle East have had worldviews and civilized nations long before the West. I don't see how women asking to be modest hurts a Christian's faith in anyway whatsoever.
  20. No. I do not agree with that, but since they DO live in the United States and they could find their own beliefs there. But they still have their beliefs and morals and you shouldn't crap on them just because you think their religion is crap.

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