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Fanshawe student wants 'sexist' dress code abolished after being kicked out of gym

A Fanshawe College student wants the school to scrap a 20-year-old dress code after she says she was kicked out of a gym for violating dress code.

The college has a long-standing dress code for hygienic purposes

Elizabeth Mckenzie took a photo of herself and posted it online after she was escorted out of the equipment area at the gym on Tuesday for wearing a sports bra. (Submitted by Elizabeth Mckenzie)

A Fanshawe College student wants the school to scrap a 20-year-old dress code after she says she was kicked out of the gym for wearing a sports bra.

First year student Elizabeth Mckenzie, who's training to be a varsity soccer player, said she was escorted out of the equipment area at the gym on Tuesday after refusing to cover up her midriff when asked by staff.

The gym's dress code includes a long-standing rule about shirts having to cover a user's mid to lower chest, ribs and midriff.

Mckenzie, 21,  — who has received multiple warnings this academic year from gym staff over her attire — said she always covered up when she was asked to.

As long as I keep fighting for justice, things will change.- Elizabeth Mckenzie, Fanshawe College student

However, she refused to change for the first time on Tuesday after her male friend — who she said was wearing a revealing ripped top — was left alone and allowed to stay.

"This is sexism …. I want the dress code to be abolished. Who gets to choose what I put on my own body?" said Mckenzie, who took a photo of herself wearing her gym attire and shared it, along with her concerns, in an online Facebook post shared by more than 1,000 people.

Jodi Anderson, the college's fitness and wellness program director, said the dress code is meant to address health issues and it's in line with industry standards.

"The policy is not gender specific and it's the same for all," she said.  "The dress code policy is in place to ensure the hygiene and health of all of our students and staff … to prevent and reduce the skin contact with machines and equipment."

Anderson could not address any incidents involving students at the gym due to privacy concerns.

Conduct investigation

Fanshawe College in London, Ont. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

Mckenzie said she is currently under investigation at the college for alleged misconduct related to the incident. She's been banned from entering certain parts of the gym until further notice, she said.

She admitted to violating the dress code and using foul language. College officials told her they're also looking into an unrelated inappropriate exchange at the gym.

Anderson said it would take more than a dress code violation for someone to be removed from the facility. In fact, gym staff could give out five or more warnings over dress code violations before the school would interfere.

Mckenzie said she respects the circumstances of the investigation. However, she will continue to fight for both men and women to wear whatever they want at the gym.

She said a group of her friends, along with other strangers, have already entered the facility wearing clothes that purposely violate the dress code to support her. 

"Nothing ever gets done being silent. As long as I keep fighting for justice, things will change," she said.

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