By Danika Young | LTVN Reporter/Anchor
Wanting to focus on her health, Georgetown freshman Ember Verde arrived at Baylor and took her first steps into the Fitness Center. However, she was turned away at the door and asked to change because of her attire.
“This brought up all the dress codes that they have for the gym, which I didn’t realize before I got there,” Verde said. “And later on, whenever I went to the gym later, there are a bunch of guys wearing tank tops in there too, which we’re not allowed to wear.”
This Fitness Center dress code is defined in the building usage manual, which says, “full-length shirts with sleeves and protective footwear are required in weights/fitness area & at the Rock and bouldering area.” This policy has raised some controversial comments from the student body.
“It’s like what I feel most comfortable in, I can’t wear,” Verde said. “And that’s how my friends feel too.”
However, Baylor Campus Recreation director Kim Scott said this policy was put in place to create durability of equipment, cleanliness and a welcoming environment for all those interested in fitness.
“I talked to equipment vendors about the equipment and how long it lasts and what are things that make it deteriorate,” Scott said. “Some of those things are some of the reasons that we chose [the dress code] … We want the Student Life Center to be a very welcoming place for all students and faculty and staff.”
Scott emphasized the impact of the dress code and why it has been in place at the Fitness Center for 22 years.
“We want everyone to feel welcome, whether they’re tall or short or thick or thin — or, you know, any person at any level to feel comfortable in going in there and knowing that they don’t have to have previous experience,” Scott said.
Some students said these policies actually challenge the idea of creating a welcoming gym for all. However, Scott said she wants Baylor’s gym to be different than the average one.
“We try to explain about the longevity of the policy, and usually they understand,” Scott said. “We want to be different than Gold’s Gym.”
Some students said they still get frustrated being turned away at the door, but Scott said the intention is not to police students on what they wear to the gym, but rather to create an open and unique environment.
“Usually what happens is one or two people get upset because we talk to them about the sleeve issue,” Scott said. “You know, they may be proud of their body and they may want to show it off, but it seems intimidating to people who are just getting started.”
Scott said she does not see this policy changing in the future, but she assures students that their voices are heard and considered when they review recreational policies each year.
“I’ve heard from more people, ‘Thank you for having a policy,’ than I have heard, ‘We don’t like this,'” Scott said. “But you know, like I said, Baylor is — we want to be — a place for all students. You can have a T-shirt and pair of shorts and come in, and that’s all it takes.”