In response to a request by female Muslim students, Harvard University has created women-only workout hours at one of its campus gyms. The decision has angered some students at the Ivy League university.
Since Jan. 28, the Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center has been open only to women from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays.
The change was prompted by a request from the Harvard College Women's Center, which was approached by six female Muslim students, said Robert Mitchell, communications director of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
"It was done for religious purposes, but it's not closed to other women who may want to participate," he said.
Ola Aljawhary, a student and a member of the Harvard Islamic Society, said the women-only gym is needed.
"These hours are necessary because there is a segment of the Harvard female population that is not found in gyms, not because they don't want to work out, but because for them working out in a co-ed gym is uncomfortable, awkward or problematic in some way," she told Boston University's Daily Free Press.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in Washington D.C., said modesty may prevent some Muslim women from exercising in a co-ed environment.
"If the women are dressed in a manner that makes it more comfortable to exercise, they may not feel it’s appropriate for them to be viewed by men in that particular attire," he said. (MORE)