Carleton University is feeling the burn from students on social media for removing a weight scale from its gym to promote a more holistic approach to a healthy body image.
The recent move isn't sitting well with several students who are accusing the school of kowtowing to a small group of gym users who are easily offended.
"Next it will be the mirrors. #bringbackthescale," wrote one Carleton student on Facebook, while another said online, "Are you for real, Carleton? What a sick joke."
Details of the scale controversy were first reported in the university's student-run newspaper, The Charlatan, on Thursday. In more social media reaction, others wondered if the online article was satire.
The paper quotes one student as saying, "Scales are very triggering" for people with eating disorders.
University 'may reconsider' decision to remove scale from gym
In an email to CBC News, Bruce Marshall, manager of wellness programs at Carleton, said it was the recreation and athletics department's decision to remove the scale and that it wasn't based on complaints.
Following three days of online backlash from students, Marshall told CBC, "we will weigh the pros and cons and may reconsider our decision."
The scale was removed two weeks ago "in keeping with current fitness and social trends," Marshall explained in his email.
"Although it can be used as a tool to help measure certain aspects of fitness it does not provide a good overall indication of health and here at athletics we have chosen to move away from focusing solely on bodyweight," he said.
"If you need a number to focus on in regard to reaching certain fitness goals we suggest using girth measurements. You can start by recording measurements in multiple areas, for example your torso, hips, chest, legs and arms. You would then revisit these measurements after a few weeks to keep tabs on your progress."
While many students have come out against the move, a few have applauded the gym for considering those with issues managing their weight.
In 2015, gym staff at the California State University removed its weight scales from locker rooms for one day in honour of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Weight scale 'vital' for boxers, rowers, student says
Aaron Bens, a communication and media studies student at Carleton, wrote to CBC that he is "frustrated" by the university's decision, which he argues is "the next escalation of trigger culture."
"We stand up for free speech and defend the books that offend certain people because of their merits. They can simply choose not to read them. This is the same thing. Those who are offended by the scale can simply choose not to use the scale," Bens wrote.
"Certain athletes like boxers and rowers rely on those measurements, for them the [scale] is vital."
Aidan Patten, a 21-year-old Carleton music student, said the scale controversy is generating some heated debate among his friends.
"A lot of people are just saying it's ridiculous, over the top. A lot of people lifting weights want to keep track of their weight. And then there's a few others that are disagreeing and saying it's more to remove the idea of people being obsessed over their weight," Patten said in an interview.
Gym should have consulted members first: student
"If it's part of a trend, then I guess they're being trendy. But I personally – yeah it's too far."
The online outrage surrounding the issue is misplaced, according to Cameron Wales. The public affairs and policy management student said he understands Marshall's rationale, but said the university should have consulted with gym members before doing away with the scale.
"Certainly those groups who are affected by the scale being removed I would expect that they are being consulted on this decision and if they're not, that might have been an error on the part of the university," said Cameron, 21.
"It sounds like people on both sides – not that this issue necessarily has to have sides – there are concerns from people with different perspectives and those should all be addressed through consultation as best as possible."