Since the enforcement of a dress code began in Trudy Fitness at the start of the fall 2021 semester, the only official information available to students about it has been a bulleted list on the Colgate Athletics website stating which bodily areas must be covered. However, the majority of students that the Maroon-News approached had learned about the dress code not through the website, but through conversations with gym staff members after unknowingly violating the dress code.
The Trudy Fitness Center Rules and Regulations found on the University website states, “For sanitary reasons, clothing which covers the back, armpits, shoulders and abdominal area is mandatory.”
According to Colgate Director of Recreation and Chair of Physical Education Julian Springer, the dress code has existed at Colgate since 2011, when Trudy Fitness Center first opened. However, it is unclear how the policy was created, and if it was voted on or by whom. Requests for comments and further elaboration were declined by Trudy administrators.
Sophomore Arnab Hait is a staff member at Trudy Fitness Center. He said he has witnessed dress-code enforcement and has seen the adverse reactions of students first-hand.
“Most people who are told about their inappropriate dress seem to be shocked, sad and often offended,” Hait said.
As a Trudy staff member, Hait is required to enforce the dress code, but says he personally disagrees with it.
“Ensuring that rigid religious or cultural beliefs are not im- posed upon students in the name of sanitary issues is significant for the broader struggle for individual rights and freedoms,” Hait said.
The policy has not been openly enforced in prior academic years.
“We are not aiming to overly emphasize any one policy. Most recreation centers across the country enforce some sort of dress code, and we benchmark our policies according to those,” Springer said.
Springer also emphasized that the goal of the dress code is not to shame gym-goers or remove them from the facility but to educate them and give them the best ex- perience possible while also being sanitary and enforcing the policies already in place.
“It’s our job to provide a safe environment that’s all inclusive for all involved and train our staff to enforce policies the best we can in order to do that,” Springer said.
As social distancing measures loosen by the day and students are not regularly tested for COVID-19, Hait said he views concerns about germs leaping between exposed midriffs as “ludicrous.”
“While some impositions are important, hegemonic restrictions which infringe upon your personal space and choice must be op-posed,” Hait said.
Of the student-employees of Trudy Fitness Center the Maroon-News contacted, Hait alone was willing to go on record to give his personal thoughts on the dress code. As of Wednesday, Sept. 15, a member of the Trudy administration requested that all staff members not comment on the topic of the dress code.
Despite the lack of input from Trudy staff and administrators, debate over the dress code has been constant amongst the Colgate student population, with some students raising concerns about anything from body-shaming, to gender discrimination, to basic comfort and mobility while working out.
First-year Gabby Urbano often goes to the gym and is concerned about how the dress code could limit her options when getting ready for the gym.
“I think [the dress code] will definitely have a negative effect on me because it means I can’t wear tank tops and even some t-shirts. The limitations don’t seem very fair considering that women’s fitness gear often has far more cut-outs and is more likely to show midriff than men’s,” Urbano said.
Sophomore Izzy Prusch is concerned with how the dress code could perpetuate or even promote body negativity and gender inequality.
“I’m super against the dress code, as it limits how comfortable I am in my body while working out,” Prusch said. “If guys want to wear tank tops and short shorts, they should, and if I want to, I should be able to as well. I think the current dress code is limiting and, in my opinion, sexist.”
The Trudy Fitness Center has not formally addressed the student body as to its newly enforced rules and reasoning. Without direct commentary from gym staff, confusion, and misinformation have seemingly run rampant. Some students have found levity in making up theories about the dress code’s recent enforcement.
“It’s clear that you guys haven’t done your research. Belly button sweat has the highest concentration of COVID-19 virus particles in the human body,” sophomore Noah Hann-Deschaine said jokingly.
Additionally, some students have voiced their concerns about the dress code and even called for action through anonymous posts on the popular message-board app, Yik Yak.
As of Friday, Sept. 24, Springer confirmed that the Trudy Fitness Center does not foresee any changes to or loosening of the dress code in the semesters to come.