OPINION: Rec Center dress code is outdated

Luci Schwarz 

lschwar2@uccs.edu 

The dress code at the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center, frankly, feels old-fashioned to me. There are several facets of their rules which don’t completely make sense and a few of these feel targeted toward women. 

     On a campus that also claims to want to create a “safe, welcome, and inclusive environment for all of [their] patrons,” it fails to hit the mark. I am a firm believer in equality and I’m certain many people would say the same. Why then, when I visit the Rec Center, do I feel I am not being treated equal to the men? 

     One afternoon, not too long ago, I was playing volleyball on the indoor basketball courts with a few friends. It became unbelievably warm in the short-sleeved shirt I was wearing. As such, I took the shirt off because it honestly felt like the air conditioning wasn’t on. I was wearing a conservative sports bra underneath. 

     Almost immediately, from across the room one of the student employees took notice. He –and I am not exaggerating — sprinted over to me, shouting for me to cover up immediately. The tone in which he said it, as if I should be ashamed, made me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. He spoke as if I was trying to be promiscuous rather than just overheating while exercising.  

     At the time, I was not aware of rule number two from the Rec Center: 

     “A full-length, non-transparent shirt fully covering the chest, back, midriff, and side areas must be worn at all times within Campus Recreation facilities, with the exception of the Aquatics Center locker rooms and Alpine Field.” 

     What I find most interesting about this rule is how, while the language of the rule is gender neutral, it doesn’t seem to apply to the men at the gym. If you wander around, you might see some shirtless ones and you might see a few who are wearing tank tops that are cut in such a way that you can still see all their chest, midriff and back, but I have never seen a Rec Center employee sprinting over to shout at any of them. 

     Apparently, Rec Center dress code enforcers can make up which clothing is appropriate or not, as made clear by the following note on their webpage: 

     “Please note that the appropriateness of clothing will be up to the discretion of the UCCS Campus Recreation staff. UCCS Campus Recreation staff reserve the right to modify dress code parameters to accommodate certain class formats and groups.” 

     What is or isn’t overly revealing or appropriate seems to be geared mostly toward women, from what I have seen.  

     For example, my sister once wore a workout tank top to the gym covered by a jacket. Once she was warm, she removed the jacket and began to use the pull-up bar. And of course, this is when a staff member came over to ask her to put her jacket back on.  

     When she was using the pull-up bar, the bottom of her tank top came up slightly to reveal her midriff.  

     I am not of the opinion that people should come naked to the gym or anything of the sort. I just wonder why our gym dress code appears to be so strict for women, when I can see people in swimsuits at the campus pool, people shirtless or in crop tops outside and people in sports bras at public gyms. 

     Are we not all adults in college who should be able to make our own decisions about what we wear? Are we still trying to argue that women’s flesh is the problem when maybe it’s actually the gaze of someone else?  

     As I ponder these questions and my own experiences, I wonder if these rules are really making students feel safe, welcome and included in our campus recreational facilities. 

     You can read all of the Rec Center Dress Code Rules (and other rules) on their website

Students work out in the gym at the rec center. Women are not allowed to wear tops that show their midriff without risking being dress-coded. Photo by Megan Moen.