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Saint Mary’s community shares thoughts on Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex dress code

| Monday, April 8, 2019

Saint Mary’s Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex has had the same dress code for the past 15 years — yet most students don’t even know about it.

Earlier in the year, there was a poster in Angela describing the dress code, but it has since been taken down. A notice at the front desk describes proper Angela dress code, but it is not openly on display.

Director of athletics Julie Schroeder-Biek said in an email the dress code stipulates those who use Angela’s facilities are not allowed to wear shirts that have been modified, clothing that shows an exposed torso, shirts with rivets, bare feet, open-toed shoes, sandals, dress shoes or jeans while working out or using gym equipment.

The main purpose of the dress code is to promote community health and safety, she said.

“In our new facility, we want to reduce the chances of damaging our equipment and keep our equipment as clean as possible,” Schroeder-Biek said in the email. “Keeping minimal skin contact with the upholstery benefits the longevity of equipment; clothing absorbs sweat and keeps it off the upholstery. Inappropriate attire can damage our equipment and pose safety hazards to those using the equipment. Ultimately, our number-one priority is ensuring that our community is safe and healthy in our facility. ”

Schroeder-Biek also said the dress code will reduce the amount of bacterial contamination.

“There will be less skin contact with the fitness equipment, which minimizes the risk of disease-causing germs” she said.

Sophomore Elizabeth Schulte, a student desk worker in Angela, said violations of the dress code aren’t common in Angela.

“It’s never really happened to me,” Schulte said. “I don’t think there’s really a set protocol for what [we’re] supposed to do if someone breaks the dress code. If it did happen, it would be left up to the directors to take care of it. I’d probably just go get one of them and let them decide about what to do. I wouldn’t openly confront the person breaking dress code.”

Several Saint Mary’s students had mixed reactions to learning about the dress code.

First-year Grace Dennis said she feels the College’s policy is just enforcing a “standard workout outfit.”

“I’m not mad about it,” Dennis said.

However, other students were more upset about some of the limitations the dress code presents. Sophomore Cecelia Klimek said the policy is policing student wardrobes.

“I think the ban on crop tops and sports bras in workout areas is honestly kind of stupid,” Klimek said. “It perpetuates the culture where women are sexualized based on what they wear — or rather, in this case, what they don’t wear.”

Klimek said she disagreed with Schroeder-Biek’s arguments in support of the dress code.

“They wipe down all of the equipment after workouts and people sweat anyway,” she said. “If you’re wearing a t-shirt, you still sweat — that won’t change if you wear something different or more open.”

Some workout clothing can be constricting and can prevent a high-performance workout, she added.

“It honestly might just be better to wear a sports bra or crop top when doing certain workouts,” she said. “When you’re doing yoga and are in ‘downward dog’ or one of the other positions, it’s a lot easier to do knowing your shirt’s not going to fall over your head.”

Klimek said she ultimately believes the women of Saint Mary’s should have the freedom to choose what they want to wear when working out.

“I think people should just wear what they find comfortable,” she said. “If you’re more comfortable in a sports bra, why is that a problem?”

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