Sister Splash

Female-only swim at George Washington University

Posted in Sister Splash on October 22nd, 2010 by steph – 4 Comments

George Washington University (in Washington DC) has begun offering women-only sessions at the school’s  indoor pool.

Last week, the Muslim Students’ Association and the University opened up “Sisters’ Splash,” a female-only hour at the pool.

Every week, GW plans to close the HelWell pool to men and will cover the glass door with a dark tarp, giving female Muslim students the chance to swim at their leisure. The University also hired a female lifeguard to be on duty for each week’s event.

Valdez Williams, the operations manager of the gym, said the University helped the MSA coordinate the weekly swim hour because GW wanted to make the girls feel comfortable.

“At GW, we try to take care of all of our students,” Williams said. “As long as it’s requested and works within our policies and procedures, we will generally accommodate them.”

Williams said the University would try to schedule one hour each week for the female students to have private access.

“The girls should be able to swim here,” Williams said. “We will not penalize them because of their religious beliefs.”

Naturally, the idea of accomodating someone else’s beliefs totally chapped the hides of some people, like Erin Mew:

So as a white, conservative, Christian woman, I would like to make a proposition. I would like to have a Christian-only swim hour once a week at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center. That isn’t too much to ask, is it? Maybe I do not want to swim with certain people because they make me feel uncomfortable. Shouldn’t the university demonstrate to me that it is tolerant of my lifestyle and my beliefs?

Honestly, I don’t have a problem with a women-only pool hour. One hour? Per week? It isn’t an unreasonable request. The reporting of the situation is a bit confusing; some saying it is for females only, other saying for female Muslim students. One of the comments on the TBD article made a good point: there are probably at least a few women out there who would feel more comfortable swimming during a session where no males are present, religion aside. The idea of a safe space might really appeal to some women, and it is possible that Christian women or atheist women might not feel  comfortable being in just a swimsuit with men around but also may want to be able to swim. So, all up, I’m not on team Christian-only swim in this case.

Another comment was ‘well what if we had a men-only swim session, huh? HUH???’. If there was a legit reason, and it didn’t affect women’s access to the pool (the Sister Splash program has both a legit reason and only takes one hour a week away from men’s access to the pool), then fine.