Updated: SGA committee proposes ‘women-only hour’ at rec center

The Student Life Committee of the State Student Union has announced that it is working on an initiative to create a daily women-only hour at the recreation center, according to Molly Cleary, who was the committee’s chairwoman until her resignation last week.

“This initiative will be to create ladies-only gym watches,” Cleary said. “Ideally, a woman should take one hour per day to exercise peacefully without worrying about male harassment.”

The initiative began in response to concerns about men being harassed.

“This is a student-led initiative and implemented on behalf of students who have reached out to SGA to share their experiences of feeling harassed and insecure while using the Rec Center,” Cleary said.

It is currently unclear how the proposed ban on men will be implemented.

Cleary said she and SGA Senator Mary Burke had been leading the initiative before she resigned from the SGA.

“We have heard from some components of events that have taken place in the gym and made them uncomfortable, and we hope this initiative will reach the goal of providing an inclusive environment for all in Seton Hall,” Burke said. “We want to emphasize that this initiative is not only for women, but also for non-binary students.”

Cleary said the Student Life Committee is in talks with enrollment center staff, who will need to approve the initiative.

“At this time, I don’t think there will be a vote because it is not a bill that would affect the Senate constitution nor is it a financial proposal,” she added.

Fatima Palomino Ramos, the senator for the arts and sciences, said she has not seen opposition to the initiative at the SGA so far.

“Most senators are aware that there is a level of discomfort women have with men in the gym, and while some don’t understand, they are empathetic enough to know why this is happening,” Ramos said.

Senator Philip Malapatan, chair of the SGA Village Relations Committee, said the initiative was a good idea based on conversations he had with members of the Student Life Committee and some of his friends.

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“Men and women can feel insecure and uncomfortable in the gym, even guys, although that’s not who it’s all about,” Mabaltan said. “At the end of the day, the initiative is trying to be more inclusive. I know some people might say ‘how’s it going?’ But there are 12 hours a day in the gym, and I’m sure one of those hours can go to the ladies.”

Evan Stoll, a sophomore in arts and sciences, said he was unsure of the timing of the initiative. He said he uses the facilities occasionally and has concerns about the initiative.

“For example, if this passes, what hour? Some people tend to go at night. Who gets fired for spending hours in that gym?” said Stull. “I just need more information.”

Several female students expressed their support for the Student Life Committee initiative.

Anis Boyajian, a second-year history student, goes to the gym five days a week. She said she strongly supports this initiative because it will help other women feel confident and secure when going to the gym.

“I feel embarrassed when men stare or I feel like someone is watching me,” Boyajian said. “Sometimes guys will want to use the machines I use and they’ll hover around the area and keep watching. Not only does it make me feel uncomfortable, it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.”

Catherine Kerr, a sophomore in diplomacy who goes to the gym about five days a week, said the initiative is a good idea because it will encourage more women to use the gym.

“I think it’s great because a lot of the girls I’ve talked to are nervous about going to the gym, and I think there are a lot of people who want to go to the gym, and they can go to it if it’s a women-free environment,” she said.

Boyajian also said she’s heard many women say they were too afraid to go to the gym.

“A lot of the girls I’ve talked to don’t want to go to the gym because of the judgment they’ll get from men, whether it’s staring, hanging, hovering, or more,” Boyajian said.

Helena Rowe, a sophomore who uses the gym six days a week, said she feels very comfortable going to the gym with the guys around.

“Personally, I feel good working with other guys and no one has bothered me before, and if they did, I would be able to reach an employee. It might also be because I worked my whole life with my brother and his friend,” Rowe said.

Roe added that she did not think the initiative was decisive.

“I feel that if it makes people feel safer they should implement it, but I personally don’t think it’s necessary,” Rowe added.

Some students, such as Senator General Conor Campbell, have expressed concern about the initiative.

“An argument can be made that this goes against Act IX by saying that this is sexism,” Campbell said.

Cash Kinsey, a second-year environmental studies student who goes to the gym most days, said he didn’t know if the university would let the initiative pass.

“If that happens, they need to make sure they don’t do it at a time that bothers anyone else, as if they do it any time the gym is very busy,” Kinsey said.

She clearly said she was “confident” of the initiative and expected it to pass in the coming months.

Cleary said anyone interested in expressing their thoughts can attend the Student Life Meeting, which takes place on Mondays at 6:15 p.m. at Bethany 201, or the General Assembly meeting, which takes place on Mondays at 7 p.m.

Title IX office and Kathleen Matta, Senior Associate Director of Athletics Recreation Services contacted by Student Life, did not respond immediately. SitonianQuestions about the initiative. Title IX’s office is investigating allegations of harassment, according to Senator Evelyn Tilley, a member of the Student Life Committee.

Jasmine DeLeon can be reached at jasmine.deleon1@student.shu.edu.

** Correction: An earlier version of this article identified Molly Cleary as Chair of the Student Life Committee, a position he held when some of the reporting for this article was completed. She resigned last week from the SGA and her position as president. We have updated the story to reflect this.

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