Carleton students campaigning for women's-only gym hours
While many students have embraced the idea, others feel it would be too restrictive.
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Students at Carleton University have launched a campaign to reserve the fitness centre exclusively for women three to five hours per week.
Organizer and graduate student union president Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah said she was approached two years ago by students from the Muslim Student Association about the need.
“There’s a big wave of support for this right now,” said fellow organizer Sydney Schneider. “People are really talking about this and they really want it.”
Schneider said the request isn’t just from Muslim students.
The group has received over 800 responses to an online survey aimed at women and non-binary students. She said many have concerns about staring, unwelcome comments or intimidation, and feel uncomfortable at co-ed gyms.
Feedback to the campaign has not been universally positive.
A number of students who would be excluded from the hour have said it would be unfair to make them pay the same price for less gym access.
Owusu-Akyeeah notes that the school already has women-only pool usage, something that has not garnered complaints.
“I guarantee you in five years when we do have a women’s-only hour, people are going to forget this was fought for. It’ll be taken for granted and they’ll use it,” she said.
Jennifer Brenning, director of athletics, said she’s looking forward to meeting with campaign organizers, but said reserving the busy gym for one group is hard because the school only has one fitness centre.
“We’re very willing to sit down and talk about what solutions we have,” she said.
The University of Ottawa offers a women-only hour twice a week in their Montpetit Fitness Centre from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. but the university’s second fitness centre has no restrictions.