New Brunswick

St. Thomas to apologize to student after wardrobe warning at gym

Staff at St. Thomas University in Fredericton say they will apologize to fourth-year student, MacKenzie Parsons, after she was told she wouldn't be allowed to wear a crop top when working out at the university's gym.

MacKenzie Parsons took to social media to express her frustration

MacKenzie Parsons, a fourth-year student at St. Thomas University, will receive an apology from the university after she was confronted by a staff member for wearing a crop top to the gym. (MacKenzie Parsons/Facebook)

St. Thomas University in Fredericton says it will apologize to a fourth-year student after she was told she wouldn't be allowed to wear a crop top while working out at the university's gym.

MacKenzie Parsons says she was approached by a staff member when she was at the J.B. O'Keefe Fitness Centre on Thursday and warned that crop tops were not allowed to be worn in the gym. The reason she was given was that some people find them distracting.

St. Thomas spokesperson Jeffrey Carleton said that shouldn't have happened and Parsons will receive an apology.

"This is an unfortunate experience and it's completely our responsibility," he said.

New policy

Carleton said the university is developing a policy at the fitness centre that will focus on the health and safety of all users that will include a dress code. He said the policy will apply to all users and all genders.

"We've been looking at that policy and we were set to finalize it in December." 

Carleton said Parsons should not have been spoken to in the way that she was, but Parsons didn't blame the staff member. She said she understands the male employee was doing his job.

"We shouldn't have put a student employee in a situation of communicating something that we hadn't finalized," Carleton said. "We take full responsibility and we'll be apologizing to the student."

Carleton said there is no policy in place now on gym wear at the fitness centre. It will be posted when finalized. 

"We have to be careful how we communicate it because it's not intended to discriminate against anyone, but there will be some dress exclusions based on safety issues related to perspiration and germs and cleaning equipment and overexposure."  

Second incident

Parsons took to social media to express her anger about what happened to her and questioned why St. Thomas would do something like this. 

"I should be able to wear what I want to the gym and feel comfortable without being patronized and kicked out because of a piece of clothing. I'm not there to distract those around me, I'm there to workout and work on myself. I'm not going to buy a whole new wardrobe, when all I own is crop tops to workout in because that's what I feel COMFORTABLE IN."

Parsons said in her post she was not going to go back to the gym that questioned her attire.

The student also told CBC she had been asked to leave the gym in September by a female employee because she was wearing a sports bra and had no T-shirt with her to put on as requested. 

"After that happened, I looked for the dress code in the lobby at the gym. There's no dress code in the lobby, there's no dress code online on their website, on their Facebook page, it's nowhere to be found." 

Parsons didn't say anything about it at the time, but she said she's had enough after this recent incident. She's hoping her post will ensure women can still wear crop tops to the gym.

About the Author

Gail Harding

Web Writer

Gail Harding began her career as a journalist in the newspaper industry before joining CBC as a web writer.