Letter to the Editor: Reily dress code seeks to offer students best environment possible

The following letter to the editor was sent in response to a Views article published on Oct. 5 titled “Reily clothing restrictions reinforce harmful body-shaming behavior.”

Dear Editor,

My name is Garrett Mack, and I’m one of the student employees at Reily. I want to thank The Hullabaloo for having the courage to speak out about the policy change because no student should feel like they cannot voice concerns against a policy that makes them feel marginalized. In fact, Reily’s mission is to offer students the best recreation environment possible, for everyone. Our dress code change was established in order to uphold that mission.

I would like to clarify some of the confusion surrounding our new rules. For the sake of avoiding ambiguity, it is best to address concerns of the article point by point.

“There is no medical evidence that exposing one’s armpits causes or encourages the spread of MRSA and other infections…”

Patrons will notice, from the very sign cited in the article, that Reily has no issue whatsoever with armpit exposure. Tank tops are allowed, as the large pictures of patrons (men and women) wearing tank tops — situated right next to the front desk, before patrons may even enter — will exemplify.

What does spread MRSA is sweat, and armpits aren’t the only site notorious for it. When patrons use equipment, particularly machines, exposed backs, shoulders and sides of the body may leave significant residue behind.

“The brunt of enforcement falls on female Reily attendees who are more likely to wear the workout attire the new dress code prohibits…”

Actually, the bulk of violations have come from men. Stringers, cutoffs and other popular weightlifting attire expose the sides of the body and often large sections of the back. I spend a great deal of time at the front desk, so I know this firsthand. Several other desk workers have also reported significantly more objections from men. Reily does not aim to marginalize women.

“Women are already shuffled away from certain spaces, such as the weight room…”

Reily employees and patrons do not forbid women from entering the weight room, nor do they “shuffle” them away. We provide a facility that everyone can use.

“…and evaluated based on facets of their fitness, like weight.”

Our dress code applies to all patrons, and no one — including athletes, models, and fitness professionals — is exempt. It does not aim to evaluate anyone based on anything. Instead, it inhibits the spread of disease.

“Instead of encouraging people not to expose their armpits…”

Armpit exposure is permitted.

“…Reily can encourage them to do things like bringing their own exercise mats and not sharing towels. It can also publicize how to recognize an infection so proper treatment can be obtained.”

The Reily Center, as an extension of Campus Recreation, is not a medical institution. Reily does not possess the legal authority to spread information on health matters. It is also significantly unfair, ineffective and impractical to hold each patron individually responsible for self-diagnosing illnesses.

Moreover, patrons are encouraged to exercise clean hygiene. Numerous spray bottles and towels are located around the facility, and we just installed numerous filling stations to make them more easily accessible.

Our staff also cleans all equipment daily using industrial-grade disinfectant, and the rest of the facility is scrubbed clean every night after closing.

“[Banning] Reily patrons from wearing revealing workout attire in a fitness environment is absurd. It is a direct affront to confidence and body positivity … We’re adults, and sports bras do not cause MRSA.”

It is correct that sports bras do not cause MRSA, but the significant amount of bare skin exposed by wearing them can. It is worth reemphasizing, too, that the dress code also affects men.

As far as body positivity, our facility takes numerous precautions to make Reily an accessible and safe space for everyone. For example, we’ve relocated our heavy powerlifting spaces to a separated room downstairs so that nobody’s throwing 500 pound barbells down on the ground while you’re just trying to use the dumbbells. In fact, during my time as a weight-room attendant, I had many female patrons — including students —  mention to me in passing how happy they were with the decision.

Thanks again for raising these concerns, because the controversy needs to be settled. I hope that this will soothe some of the anger this policy change has caused, and please know that no decisions are made without significant attention to the safety and well-being of our patrons.


Garrett Mack

Building Manager, Reily Recreation Center

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