Now this is pretty interesting. Six hours a week can cause quite a ruckus, but I guess it’s more about the principle.
BOSTON – In a test of Harvard’s famed open-mindedness, the university has banned men from one of its gyms for a few hours a week to accommodate Muslim women who say it offends their sense of modesty to exercise in front of the opposite sex. The policy is already unpopular with many on campus, including some women who consider it sexist.
“I think that it’s incorrect in a college setting to institute a policy in which half of the campus gets wronged or denied a resource that’s supposed to be for everyone,” said student Lucy Caldwell, who also wrote a column in The Harvard Crimson newspaper critical of the new hours.
Student Ola Aljawhary, who is Muslim and works out elsewhere on campus but is not one of the women who requested the change, rejected that argument.
…No men are allowed in the gym between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Mondays, and between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Even the staff during those times is all women. [source]
Across the US alot of MSAs were able to get all women hours for the gym pool. We were able to do that in at my undergrad on some saturdays for 3 hours in the morning but the caveat was we had to cover the cost of the lifeguards ourselves, which was reasonable.
This is the first I’veheard of all-women hours for the entire university gym, interesting!
So often people still can’t understand the difference between being sexist and being simply understanding…
And 6 hours is not going to kill anyone
To be truly culturally sensitive, one does not need to smile at the other person, bu to be able to truyl challenge his/her own paradigm of what he/she thinks is right/wrong
Which apparently some Harvard students still need to
Totally supporting the university!
Ukrainian, living in Jordan
One more thing..
For nonmuslims who grew up and live in environments with little interaction with muslims (or non-conservative environments, whatever) I can understand the negative attitude especially from someone who this is affecting. I think the MSA (or whoever else worked for this) should do a good job of making their case to the Harvard student body (gym newsletter?) the same way they did with university officials/gym administration.
There’s a good reason for these hours (obviously or else they wouldn’t be in place) and those that fought for it should make it known to those affected. How people view the justification is a different issue but it seems that the same attempts to make the case with officals wasn’t made with the general Harvard community.
Let me clarify something. Harvard is composed of many houses (around 12) and every house has a gym. It also has a huge gym for the hole community. Only one of the house’s gyms has “women” only hours. So basically, the complaint from Harvard students is totally unwarranted.
Amazing what the Khaligi money can do!!!!!!!!
This is absurd. They have gone way too far here.
I am really thrilled for the Muslim women at Harvard. It must have taken a lot of leg work to get this opportunity for the Muslim women. I hope lots of the ladies take advantage of this and use the time wisely. This is a trial period for the future. Harvard has the opportunity to be a leader and I hope they can do it.
This is unreasonable because those women who truly care about modesty and working out already know that there are many all women establishments out there like curves and women’s only fitness centers. The accommodation that Harvard made for 6 women only hours in ONE gym is small and inconvenient, it makes the request silly min aslo. Really it’s Harvard saying we are pioneers in cultural and religious sensitivities and bogus political correctness. Any Muslim female student with a an ounce of sense in her would join an all female gym instead of limiting her workout to those 3 days. It’s an inconvenient unnecessary accommodation that makes both parties look stupid.
Yes 6 hours won’t kill anyone but they won’t make a difference to the Muslim exercisers. Oh and what about the Muslim Males aren’t they supposed to avoid the evils of seeing a woman in yoga tights and a sports bra?? where do you draw the line? Should Harvard offer segregated male and female classes too ?? I’m sorry if you are that concerned with modesty and not being around men then go to an all girls college.
What is really hypocritical about all this is that Muslims will not allow someone to eat in public in Ramadan when they have the power and they have that power in many countries, but they tour the western world asking for unreasonable accommodations and abusing the religious freedoms they don’t grant others.
Neither will segregating classes by gender, so why stop there? I’m sure there are numerous other groups that can be accommodated in ways that will inconvenience the majority of my country only a little at once. All those little inconveniences will, in due time, add up to quite a lot of inconvenience. Even so, why should Muslims be privileged over other minority groups? If these were fundamentalist Christians from the southern United States asking for such an accommodation to modesty, they would be derided as hopelessly old-fashioned at best and as bigots at the worst; Muslims get a pass even though, as a commentator above noted, such traditional Muslim modesty goes out the door in every other circumstance for these young ladies.
I guess the leftists in academia have decided equality between the sexes is no longer important unless it somehow involves the vilification of white men. Diversity is the latest in trendy liberal causes and the feminists, to the extent that they aren’t themselves participants in promoting cultural relativism, can take a hike where the two issues conflict.
Speaking of sex segregation in the classroom and left-wing hypocrisy, UC Berkeley, that institution that has so long championed ludicrous liberal thought, is reportedly hashing out a deal with the medieval-minded Saudis for an engineering college that will allow only male students and instructors. The insanity of multiculturalism truly knows no bounds; perhaps traditional Mideastern honor killings should be next on the list of rich, diverse, and wonderfully quaint customs we ought respect. “After all, who are we to judge another culture?” cultural Marxists will wonder, oblivious to the fact that only a westerner would bother to ponder such a question in the first place.
My prediction is that non-Muslim women will also be interested in the special hours, and I hope they will be encouraged and allowed to benefit from them. I see nothing whatsoever wrong in asking for such accomodations. All-female fitness centers like Curves are popular precisely because there IS the need for privacy from the other sex while exercising. Curves is not run by Muslims, and most of their clients are not Muslims. People are just starting to realize the freedom and benefit of having some privacy and time away from the other sex. That is why many schools in the US are now experimenting with sex-segregation in the elementary and teen years. Study after study shows that girls do a whole lot better when they do not attend school with boys.
I am sorry if this might sound degrading or offensive to someone but I guess that’s the whole point of having this discussion: to voice your opinion… and here goes mine:
I think that women who still think this way in the 21st century don’t really need the Harvard education anyways. Again sorry if I’m offending anybody (and probably a LOT of you out there)..
I mean people… it’s the 21st century, I’ve seen women in hijab in Jordan exercising in front of men wearing the hijab with the tightest clothes you can find on earth!!!!!
A lot of hypocrisy following this issue should be taken into consideration.. I mean, I’m really impressed by Maha’s point about Islamic governments not allowing ANYBODY (non-muslims and non-practicers) to eat in public during the month of Ramadan.. Don’t you think it’s hypocritical to allow such unwarranted control and then request 6 hours for women only in Harvard..
Give it a minute and think about it.. what image are we REALLY portraying to the west????????
Yes, H, your way of thinking IS offensive and degrading to lots of people. So, let me get this straight…if Muslim women have self-respect and prefer to stay covered in front of the opposite sex, then they should not pursue education at all, much less at Harvard. Did it ever occur to you that this is not an east-west issue? Those Muslim women may well be Americans (as am I, born and raised). And please read my previous post about Curves and single-sex education. Muslims are NOT the only ones who benefit from such arrangements.
I’m with Maha on this. The students should go to an all-female gym, rather than restrict both their hours and everyone else’s in this manner.
H…. “am sorry if this might sound degrading or offensive to someone but I guess thatâ€™s the whole point of having this discussion: to voice your opinionâ€¦ and here goes mine:”
why on earth do you think your opinion is “degrading” or “offensive” to others, unless you really know that you aren’t respectful in your reply? (just wondering) 🙂 i totally disagree that the whole point of this discussion is to “degrade” people. voicing your opinion while respecting the others is a civilized way of allowing a constructive dialogue to take place 🙂
lol @ “I think that women who still think this way in the 21st century donâ€™t really need the Harvard education anyways.”
why on earth would you assume that education goes in conflict with religious values, including religious codes of dressing and modesty?? And mind you, how should religious people think, now that we are in the 21st C? cast religion aside? please enlighten me! The statement you just made is just toooooo naive.
“I mean peopleâ€¦ itâ€™s the 21st century, Iâ€™ve seen women in hijab in Jordan exercising in front of men wearing the hijab with the tightest clothes you can find on earth!!!!!”.
doesn’t sound like these Harvard women fall under the category you just specified. If anything, they do not want to wear “the tightest clothes you can find on earth” while working out in a mixed gym, hence the whole appeal.
“Donâ€™t you think itâ€™s hypocritical to allow such unwarranted control and then request 6 hours for women only in Harvard..”
these women live in America not jordan, and therefore they are asking for their rights in a free, democratic country, so i find it unfair to link the freedom they are legally allowed to have in America to the treatment of minorities in some other country, like Jordan. America is not Jordan. In addition, as Saned pointed out, Harvard consists of several on-campus housings with a gym on each location. These six hours are requested from one of those gyms, which i do not view as a sacrifice on behalf of the rest of the Harvard student body since there are a number of alternatives for them. These women are simply asking for their right to use gym facilities.
“Give it a minute and think about it.. what image are we REALLY portraying to the west????????”
I’m not one of those Harvard Muslim women who asked for those gym hours, but since you are using the collective we i’ll include my voice as well, WE ARE VOICING OUR RIGHTS! 🙂
“WE ARE VOICING OUR RIGHTS!”
What right are we talking about here, the right to exercise in a male free environment ??
You do have that right!! go join any gym that suits your need!! Religious, physical …whatever
There is a big difference between rights to equality and religious freedom and asking for accommodation for your personal choices. When making a personal choice such as religion it is YOU who should go the extra mile to properly uphold the requirements of your religion, NOT EVERYONE around you. From a religious standpoint anyone who asks for religious accommodations to make their religion easier to follow should get no grace for that act, granted that they have the religious freedom to practice. Religion was never meant to be easy or convenient.
The thing with this specific issue is that there are SO many ways to get your workout at home, outdoors, on a DVD at no extra cost for you. so this whole thing is ludicrous. I would understand religious accommodation only when you have no freedom to pursue other means. If you are a strict hindu vegan you should be accommodated with vegetarian foods IF YOU’RE IN PRISON, if you are not go graze as suits you!!
“What right are we talking about here, the right to exercise in a male free environment ??
You do have that right!! go join any gym that suits your need!! Religious, physical â€¦whatever”
these Harvard women are not part of the local community only, they are STUDENTS at Harvard who PAY A HYPER FEE, just like the rest of the student body, to access these facilities provided FOR ALL STUDENTS. So why travel the extra a couple of miles you are talking about to find “any gym that suits your need!! Religious, physical â€¦whatever”, “while you can have access to an on-campus-gym?? . And yes, Accommodating one gym for 6 hours per week isn’t a bit of a sacrifice since it is not the main gym, but rather one of the many on-campus-housing gyms that these students pay for accessing.
“From a religious standpoint anyone who asks for religious accommodations to make their religion easier to follow should get no grace for that act, granted that they have the religious freedom to practice. Religion was never meant to be easy or convenient.”
what religious text did you get that from? this isn’t an Islamic view point on how to win salvation in the hereafter. certain aspects in religion are convenient, whereas others are not. it all depends on how you personally view religion, which is not the point behind this discussion.
“The thing with this specific issue is that there are SO many ways to get your workout at home, outdoors, on a DVD at no extra cost for you. so this whole thing is ludicrous. I would understand religious accommodation only when you have no freedom to pursue other means.”
These women are not just part of the local community who came from nowhere to ask the school to accommodate 6 hours to their needs, they are students at Harvard who pay fees to go to Harvard and use such facilities, so why go to “Curves”? In addition, there is nothing that says that other women who prefer a single-sexed environment will not also benefit from these hours.
No, they are asking for special privileges. There is no “right to attend a gym,” let alone attend one at everyone else’s time and convenience, in the U.S. Constitution, nor is any such right enshrined in state or federal laws. There is freedom of religion, but no guarantee that your religion must be sanctioned or subsidized by the rest of the population. Lets call a spade a spade: privileges and not rights are what we speak of in this instance.
That doesn’t mean that every student is guaranteed special accommodation as regards gym facilities or any other common resource at Harvard. As you mentioned, these facilities are provided for ALL STUDENTS (at least of a certain house), not just Muslim students, and yet, as a result of Harvard’s decision, a number of students paying those HYPER FEES are being denied use of the facilities during certain hours.
Harvard is a private body and can do whatever it wants whether or not you or I agree with them, but lets be realistic and admit this may inconvenience some students whose time between a demanding Ivy League course load to attend a gym may be limited. Those people, who demanded no special accommodation beyond what was previously provided to all, that is, open access to the gym for all members of their house during hours the gym is open, are the ones who may find themselves having to go off campus to private facilities.
What if a Harvard male who works to pay his way to Harvard while studying wishes to exercise during these restricted times. If these are the only available times according to his schedule he should be inconvenienced? If these students want to live according to muslim rules then go to a muslim school? I’m sure there are plenty in the middle east. Shame on Harvard.
The comments took an interesting turn.
Seriously people, this issue isn’t that big of a deal. In case you’re unaware Muslim Student Associations all across the US have been able to establish some version of female-only hours for workout facilities. For the most part I’m pretty sure there’s not much of a stir being caused on campuses like there is here. There might be some students that were inconvenienced or annoyed but they get over it-they might even bother learning the reason for it and at the end of the day it really wasn’t a big deal.
For those suggesting that the women should just go to a local all women’s gym: for a full-time student living on campus that’s simply not practical. I go to an all women’s gym when I’m home in my parents house where I have convenient luxuries like a car, more time, and extra money. There’s no way I would have been able to do that at school.
Also, Harvard is NOT a public institution, people pay a ridiculous amount of money to go there. I went to a private university and the annual recreation fee was mandatory. I didn’t expect or demand “special privileges” but I definitely expect the powers that be to take my needs (for lack of a better word) into consideration. The female Muslim population was a significant one and we wanted to be able to swim in OUR university pool.
We made our case to the appropriate admins, they decided it was reasonable and we were able work out some pre-announced hours where doors would be locked (except the one connected to the female locker room),windows covered, and signs put up to alert. Noone made a big deal of it, noone really cared; different facilities on campus get reserved for one reason or another all the time so most people probably didn’t even think twice. If there was an issue then we could have worked out something else out because there’s always room to compromise. For example in this particular case at Harvard they could have an all women’s section or room…but don’t try to impose your ideals on me by not allowing such acommadation just because you think something is inherently wrong with my beliefs or ways-that’s my business.
So my point is, chill people!
Once again, Muslims are making unreasonable demands. No matter what country they go, they make demands. These people are simply unable to assimilate ANYWHERE and cause nothing but trouble. Hey you 6 Muslims girls – ASSIMILATE or get back to your Middle East. Nobody forced you to come here.
“Hey you 6 Muslims girls – ASSIMILATE or get back to your Middle East. Nobody forced you to come here.”
this is an extremely naive statement you’re making over here Jenny. what makes you assume they are from the Middle East? Despite of their heritage, haven’t you ever heard of American Muslims who possibly are first, second, or even third generation immigrants to THE GREAT AMERICA?. Also, what about converts/reverts? ohhhhh, how weird it is for a Caucasian American Muslim to exist …! these “6 Muslims girls” might be pretty much more American than you are 😉