Dress Up to Work Out: Student Life Center Enforces Dress Code

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students work the various weight and cardio machines at the Student Life Center, Wednesday January 13, 2016.

The Student Life Center is open to all U students — if they can dress the part.

“One of my friends got kicked out because he cut the sleeves off his shirt,” said Josh Cisar, a senior in health promotion and education. “He was asked to leave or change.”

Cisar and his friend chose to leave.

“I think that’s a little much, especially for a first-time offense,” Cisar said. “I think a warning suffices.”

Campus Recreation calls its 9,000-word policy for the center “simple rules and guidelines.” It specifically prohibits jeans, canvas shoes, pants with pockets, sports bras worn as shirts, short tank tops and several other items. Shirts must cover the sides and midriff. Cut-off sleeve holes can’t hang lower than four inches from the armpit.

Cheri Jenkins, associate director of Facilities Operations, said they don’t want to discourage anyone from working out and all of the policies they’ve made have to do with safety and risk management and are industry standards.

Jenkins said they rarely kick students out, and they have appropriate shirts available at the center. A year ago, the field house’s rules were looser, allowing items that are specifically banned at the Student Life Center.

“The policy was that they’d have to wear at least a tank top, but then people would push that to the limit, and we had guys who had hardly anything on,” Jenkins said. “Women could wear a sports bra if they were just doing cardio, and we got complaints from other patrons. So there’s both sides of the coin.”

Merritt Cook, a sophomore in human development who attends the center regularly, said the dress code is “probably unnecessary.”

“It doesn’t really affect much because it tends to be the social standard,” Cook said.

Many students are surprised that the U itself has no dress code.

“No dress code? Guess I’ll go shirtless to class,” Cisar said.

Don’t expect campus to look like ancient Greece any time soon, though. Robert Payne, associate counsel for the U, said the university relies on Utah law to enforce decency. Any nudity on campus would violate lewdness laws.

Allison Frost, a case manager at the Office of the Dean of Students, said any law violation also violates the student code of conduct. The processes are separate, so a student who gets off in court could still be punished by the school.

“There’s always that grey area of a healthy educational environment, and we want to ensure that for our students, but we also want to ensure their rights as students are also enforced,” Frost said.

Frost said that in her six years at the U, she couldn’t remember any significant dress-related incidents or reports.

The Student Life Center is free for all matriculated students and is open seven days a week.

m.bateman@dailyutahchronicle.com

@mbatman72

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