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After Controversy, Fitness Center to Allow Crop Tops

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St. Thomas University of Fredericton, NB, has released a new policy regarding appropriate attire at the J.B. O’Keefe Fitness Centre, two months after a crop top worn by a female student caused a small controversy.

According to student newspaper The Aquinian, on Nov. 22, 2018 fourth-year student Mackenzie Parsons was told by a male fitness centre employee that the crop top she was wearing at the time was distracting. The employee warned Parsons that a new policy would ban such attire beginning this month.

But that didn’t happen.

In a new Rules and Etiquette Policy released to students on Jan. 18, the section on clothing reads: “Clothing must be clean and appropriate to a fitness and recreation environment. Suitable exercise attire include shorts, leggings, track pants, sweatshirts, casual pants, t-shirts, tank tops, crop tops, and sports bras. Clothing must also be free of attachments (ie., belts, studs, rivets, zippers, velcro, buckles and snaps) that might damage equipment or cause injury.”

The athletics department originally cited the possibility of sweat dripping onto equipment as a reason for Parsons’ treatment, based on what the department thought at the time, according to university spokesperson Jeffrey Carleton. The new policy expressly spells out that patrons are required to wipe off equipment using provided spray bottles and cloths.

Parsons received an apology from the school’s director of athletics, Mike Eagles, and told The Aquinian that she was satisfied with the new policy.

“I got what I wanted out of it. And I think, a little bit more because you can also wear sports bras and sports bras are considered activewear,” she said.

Parsons said that at first she felt nervous in returning to the facility, but that anxiety has subsided. “I’m really happy going back there,” she said. “I was kind of nervous at first but when I went in, it was fine. Everyone was helpful and I haven’t gotten talked to since.”

Carleton said that the school looked at other policies from local gyms and universities when crafting their new policy. It was also run by the Students’ Union and the University Student Athletic Council.

Students’ Union vice president Wasiimah Joomun told The Aquinian that she was pleased with the new policy. “Students now feel more comfortable going to the gym knowing that they are not restricted on what they can wear to work out.”

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