Women-only gym hours request divides McGill
A proposal for women-only gym hours at McGill University is causing some soreness in the student body.
Two law students have called on the school’s fitness centre to dedicate a few hours per week to women-only workout time.
Second-year student Soumia Allalou said her religious beliefs exclude her from exercising in the presence of men, but added that all women would benefit from having the option of working out during exclusive hours.
“I’ve seen that there’s a couple of women who have messaged me and expressed that they would like to see women’s hours implemented,” Allalou said. “They feel intimidated using the weight sets section. They’ve either been harassed or they’ve been looked at, watched.”
But many disagree with the proposition. One online petition, titled “We oppose women-only hours at the McGill Fitness Centre,” had attracted at least 600 signatures before the link to the petition went down.
“Women who refuse to use the gym when men are present make a choice that they alone are responsible for,” read the petition. “Their personal choices do not entitle them to special privileges … We value McGill’s co-ed learning environment and the equality of men and women in our society.”
Introducing gender-based hours wouldn’t be unprecedented. The pool in the university’s athletics facility already has women-only hours.
“We’ve had them for almost 10 years now, and it was at the request of a student who came in and wanted to institute those hours in the pool, and we were able to accommodate that,” McGill athletics and recreation assistant director Jill Barker said.
It’s not unheard of at other schools either. The University of Toronto, for example, has one women-only hour per day in their strength and conditioning centre.
Allalou, though, doesn’t see women-only hours as an imposition on anyone.
“I think that three to four hours a week, different times, not scheduling it during peak times, is not really an infringement on others’ rights.”