McGill University open to suggestion of women-only gym hours

The administration at McGill University says it would be amenable to having women-only hours at the campus gym.
Students work out at the McGill University fitness centre. The gym does not have women-only hours at the moment, but two student are hoping to change that. (McGill University)

The administration at McGill University says it would be amenable to having women-only hours at the campus gym. 

A proposal by two McGill law faculty students to have women-only hours at the gym has prompted debate not just across campus, but across the country.

Proponents for the idea say it would help women feel more comfortable in the gym, but critics say those women should toughen up, and that the idea is sexist towards men.

However, the university administration said it would consider the idea.

“No students have asked the university yet to provide women’s-only hours for the fitness centre," wrote the school's administration in a statement.

"If any students do make such a request, we will consider it.  We already offer scheduling provisions of that sort for the swimming pool.  Our only goal is to provide the best services possible to our students and staff, and to encourage people to exercise.” 

The idea came from Soumia Allalou, 23, who contacted the university's gym to ask when the women-only hours were.

She was surprised to find that there was no such thing.

"I feel like there are many women who have a variety of reasons for preferring to work out in a women-only environment. Whether it's how comfortable they are, whether they have had bad experiences at the gym in the past, whether they have less access to the machines. A lot of women tell me they feel intimidated in the weights section," said Allalou, who wears a hair covering and cites religious reasons for her preference. 

Proposal could go to vote

The Students Society of McGill University (SSMU) is working with Allalou on the possibility of presenting a proposal at a meeting. If that happens, the proposal will go to a vote for endorsement by the student associations represented by the union.

The proposal will then need to be taken to McGill's director of athletics before it can proceed further. No date has been set yet for the proposal to be brought to the SSMU for a vote.