In response to recent dress code criticism, the Elmen Center is introducing a new program to appease disgruntled patrons.
Topless Tuesdays will allow students more freedom with their attire in the weight room for one day a week.
“We really just felt this was a good opportunity to let up on the new rules a little bit while still keeping them in place for a majority of the time,” Rec Services director Mark Hecht said.
Hecht said they discussed other ideas as well, such as Midriff Mondays or Sports Bra Sundays. Tummy Thursdays was even discussed, but staff ultimately decided on Topless Tuesdays because it allowed the same freedom for all genders.
The current weight room policy, in place Wednesday through Monday, states that shirts must be “full length, long sleeve, tank tops,” and “cover the nipples through any range of motion.” The policy is intended “to help protect against the transmission of viruses and infections” and respect the “comfort” of all Elmen-goers.
Many students have questioned which virus the dress code prevents that can spread to other Elmen patrons via backs or shoulders on equipment. Hecht said that although there are many bacteria living on the midriffs of students, they’re most concerned with cooties.
“The secondhand skin-to-skin contact among genders, I think, is something that our good Christian campus just isn’t ready for,” he said.
In addition to a catchy alliteration, Tuesdays are statistically the least likely day for viruses to spread via weight room equipment. This gives skin-baring students more protection than other days of the week, when they’re more susceptible to diseases like cooties.
“Viruses are sleepy on Tuesdays,” biology department and immunology professor Jenny Gubbels said.
The policy also restricts footwear to shoes that are non-marking, fully enclosed and clean. The sign singles out flip flops, bare feet and boots as being specifically not allowed.
Senior John Walker said he is okay with Topless Tuesdays, but would rather have Free-the-Foot Friday to combat the shoe rules.
“I like to let the dogs breathe while I get a quick pump in,” Walker said.
Augustana’s Feminist Equality Movement (FEM) posted a statement to their Instagram story last week in support of the new policy.
“We are happy to hear that the Elmen has decided to give students more freedom with what they wear when working out,” the statement read. “It’s a step in the right direction. We will continue to push for fewer restrictions.”
Hecht envisions this policy as temporary until a more permanent solution can be reached. He said the Elmen will continue to work with students and faculty to make sure a dress code can be put in place that suits all students.
“If this works out and everyone likes it, that’s great,” Hecht said. “We do feel like something more final can be put in place, but we’ll just have to see what happens.”
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