Olivia Fiorella (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On October 24, Ursinus’ head strength and conditioning coach, Michael Moronese, sent out an email in which he announced an Open Gym Block for “all students, staff and faculty that do not identify as a cisgender man.” Many students were excited at the prospect of having a space in which non-males could comfortably work out without feeling heavily outnumbered by the mostly male athletics students who frequent the gym. It created an opportunity for a larger community to develop strength and practice healthy lifestyles.
This is not to defame the people who frequent the gym, but not having those groups of people there all the time could create an extra layer of comfort for those on the fence about going to the gym. However, the very next day, that layer of comfort was ripped away after another email was sent out from the Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness & Director of Athletics, Lauren Moliken. The email stated, “Every member of the Ursinus Community is invited to use our fitness center during regularly scheduled times. We are also fully committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment as possible. We want everyone to feel comfortable when using the Fitness Center, which we know isn’t always the case.” This email directly acknowledges how many are resolved not to use the Fitness Center, but provides no remedy to the issue of the comfort of non-cisgender male students. Thus, we’re right back where we started.
Naturally, many people were upset to hear this news. Kate Foley ’23, said “I’m extremely disappointed in the Fitness Center’s sudden new stance on gym hours specifically for women and LGBTQ+ students. As an LGBTQ woman who currently does not feel comfortable or safe using the Fitness Center on her own, being able to use the gym without cisgender men in the space would be an enormous burden lifted off my shoulders.”
Kate is not the only one who feels this way. Her frustration is also felt by Elliot Cetinski ’24 said, “As a trans student on this campus, it is quite disturbing to see that a wonderful step towards giving people a safe space to take care of their bodies was immediately rescinded. The situation should have been handled by talking to LGBT students and opening a conversation.”
The Ursinus College Democrats also had an excellent statement regarding the decision: “The Fitness Center is already male-dominated—setting aside a time for everyone else to go to the gym simply allows for a more equitable distribution of access to the facility.”
As someone who also identifies as part of the LGBTQ community, their decision to remove these allotted hours is deeply frustrating as it shows which students are a priority for the administration. Intentionally or not, the Fitness Center is far from a haven for students to practice healthy living and has become a place that causes anxiety above anything else. Because of this, I strongly urge Ursinus College’s Fitness Center to reconsider their decision and re-implement these hours.