There is an interesting controversy brewing at Harvard University. The university has banned men from one of its gyms to create women-only hours – to accommodate Muslim women. While the effort is a commendable effort to accommodate a part of the Harvard community, it also constitutes a serious question of gender discrimination.
According to reports, six women asked the university to ban men so that Muslim women are more comfortable in exercising. The university responded by baning men from the Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center during certain times.
When it comes to a common resource like a gym, the ban on students and faculty based on gender is a disturbing policy choice. Religious groups should be accommodated in allowing them to build their own exclusive spaces using organizational funds. Thus, if they wanted to raise money to create a small workout room of their own, the university could and should support the effort. However, curtailing equal access policies to common areas is a major rollback after years of fighting for color-blind, gender-blind universities.
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