University of Canterbury kicks men from gym

The University of Canterbury has introduced "women only" hours at its campus gym, which has been met with controversy.

The decision was made by the university to meet the needs of all the students after a student group submitted a formal request.

A spokesperson for the University said it was not the first time the UC Recreation Centre had received the request but it was the first time there had been suitable space available to trial it.

The new schedule received positive and negative reactions from the University's students on the UC Rec Center Facebook page. University of Canterbury student Parintorn Varnakomala questioned where the equality was: "What ever happened to gender equality?" Stuart Kilby said it was a bit of a kick to the face to all rec male members as he had attended the gym for five years and had not heard of any harassment issues. "I'm sure every person, male and female, could see that this is not good for gym morale," he said.

Others were excited for the trial and praised the decision. Heather Knox said it was a great initiative on the part of the Recreation Centre.  "This is awesome. It's a shame that it's needed but seeing as too often women get heckled, hit on and harassed in shared-gender spaces this seems like a smart way to give them a break and let them exercise in peace," she said. 

The University spokesperson said if there was a significant demand for men only hours, or for any other cohort, it would go through the same process.

The new gym hours would not affect the whole gym, with 18 hours a week set aside for some areas to become “women only”. All of the equipment in the women only areas would also be available in other parts of the gym.

The male-free gym sessions have been allocated between Monday and Saturday.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2016.
Posted 10:26am Sunday 21st August 2016 by Charlotte Haselden.