McGill University Asks To Create Women-Only Hours At School Gym

274px-McGill_University_CoA.svgWe previously discussed the decision of Harvard to create a women-only hours at the college gym. It appears now that McGill University, an equally world-class academic institution in Montreal, is being asked to offer the same accommodation to female students who do not want to work out around males. student Soumia Allalou, 23, insists that women should not be forced to at a gym with male students. However, others raise the question of gender discrimination in barring male students solely due to their sex rather than their conduct. Allalou is a Muslim and wears a hair covering.

She notes that the school pool has special hours for women after a female student brought forward similar concerns. However, it would seem worthy of a debate about that accommodation as well as the new requested accommodation. These hours are set aside only for women while men have no such accommodation. Even it is were enforced as a separate but equal program with both male and female exclusive hours, there would remain the question of the wisdom of gender discriminatory rules.

The student union is working with Allalou to present the matter to a vote. Claire Stewart-Kanigan, the student union’s vice-president of university affairs insists “There has been backlash saying that women should just get over it and feel comfortable around men, regardless of religious or personal reasons that lead them to feel uncomfortable. But when we are talking about religious freedom, it’s not a question of asking someone to get over it. That is asking them to give up tenets of their religious practice, which is not something that we should be standing for at McGill.”

That is certainly one perspective. A different perspective is that the university is based on notions of equality and that students who insist on racial or gender or religious exclusion are not required to use such facilities as the gymnasium.

What do you think?

63 thoughts on “McGill University Asks To Create Women-Only Hours At School Gym”

  1. Davidm

    Your arguments, positions, and rebuttals seem to, for the most part, rest on selective writings of people who lived hundreds of years ago, slave owners and founding fathers. If you go back through history the one reality that should appear consistent is contradiction. That which was acceptable in the past is not always maintained as acceptable. That which applies does not always apply. We as a society evolve. The one fact of the moment that is becoming more and more apparent is that the most evolved societies are relying less if at all on religions to guide them but on their own collective perceptions of right and wrong based on experience and common sense. It is possible you know. Religion is permissible unless it infringes on the common condition.

    Gyms should be divided by activity, not religion. Showers should be divided by sex, not religion. Religion should be kept out of the common condition. If a Muslim wants to swim privately in a bed sheet then they should build their own pools.

    1. issac – our country is based on the rule of law. Some of those cases go back to the beginning of the country. The UK does not have a written Constitution, but it does hold great reverence for the Magna Charta, etc. Those go back much further than the Constitution. BTW, the original draft of the Declaration of Independence they listed George III as the cause of slavery in the colonies.

  2. Beldar here. Gyms on college campus should be separate and equal for men and women. Different buildings. Women dont want to shower in some stall used by some filthy fat male pig an hour earlier.

  3. I hate this concept of women only anything. Its sexism wrapped up in something else to try and mask it. If you can’t handle being around men in the gym, don’t use one. Most people go to the gym to get themselves in shape so they can meet a partner and stay healthy. If you can’t handle seeing the opposite sex and being in their presence, you have no hope.

  4. If you a man that would be the best bet for you. Why subject yourself to the hysteria. Choice! It’s not just for killing babies anymore!

  5. trooper, It is just in our lifetime that many major universities went coed. I can see it reversing.

  6. I think it would be a great idea to have same sex colleges with women and men attending separate institutions. You could of course have coed universities but what man in his right mind would want to subject himself to the endless harassment of the feminist harpies and their imaginary “rape culture.”

    Either that or go on-line all the way and abolish the waste of the higher education swamp.

  7. Max-1 No, her being a Muslima isn’t incidental to this situation. So far, every listed case of such demands for separate female exercise in colleges has been spearheaded by Muslims on campus. Additionally, the student union is approaching from a Muslim standpoint, not a female-centric one.

  8. p.s.
    This article could have been written without the red meat dog whistle “Muslim” focus. Honestly JT, this incident isn’t really about a Hijab. It’s about the ability of women to exercise separate from men and the men who find out that they don’t get equal free time. Her religion is an incidental, not the focus. You wrote, “These hours are set aside only for women while men have no such accommodation. Even it is were enforced as a separate but equal program with both male and female exclusive hours, there would remain the question of the wisdom of gender discriminatory rules.” Stick to that angle. Offering us, “Allalou is a Muslim and wears a hair covering” as the aside offering. Just read the commenters… Like lions, red meat is not going to go to waste.

    1. Max-1 wrote: “… this incident isn’t really about a Hijab. It’s about the ability of women to exercise separate from men and the men who find out that they don’t get equal free time. Her religion is an incidental, not the focus.”

      I agree. This is more about gender segregation / equality than religious equality.

  9. I wish we could swim in peace… Establish a time when men can swim, when women can swim and then when it’s co-ed swim time. Problem solved.

    But no… we can’t have it THAT simple, can’t we?

  10. McGill is a very good school. But, being in Montreal, they are European wannabes. So, of course, following the European model, they are trying to appease Muslims. How’s that been working so far??

  11. I´m on holiday in Austria and went to the mixed sauna yesterday. I´m not too thrilled about mixed saunas. But, like the saying goes, when in Rome. Where I live they have a separate women´s day for the sauna. It is really great. You can really relax and there is a such a good atmosphere with just women. Of course, the men protest against the women´s day, but the sauna makes a lot of money on that day because women stay longer and buy a lot of beverages if the men are absent. Anyway, I can understand why Ms. Allalou would want to work out sans men. I just think that when at a Canadian University, do as the Canadians do.

  12. Where has Ms. Allalou been working out up until now? There are all sorts of possibilities to get a workout without having men around. Ballet, yoga, step aerobics. That´s what my daughter does at her Uni in Germany. Not a man to be found in those classes. I sometimes wonder why the men don´t demand that the Uni provide some fitness classes in which only men would want to participate.
    Is she being forced to work out? Is it a requirement for graduation? What is being forced? They shouldn´t give in, next thing you know they´ll want to ban beer in the university pub.

  13. Absolutely have segregated male/female swim sessions. Divide the hours in half. Do not allow men and women in the pool at the same time. Different strokes for different folks. Separate hot tubs entirely, not separate hours. Or drain it and sterilize it between shifts.

  14. Sorry, RTenDad, but U.S. universities that accept federal money must abide by EEOC and other federal rules. So there *are* legal ramifications for Harvard. Can’t speak for McGill.

  15. Wally and jonolan

    One of the tenets this country was founded on focused on religion, freedom of religion but more importantly the separation of church and state or freedom from religion. If Muslims wish to be apart in their religion and swim while wearing bedsheets, hoods, or whatever, then they should create their own pools for their own religious stuff. Harvard and McGill, the last I checked are schools open to all, not just the Muslims. They should stand as great melting pots of all that has been, all that is, and all that will be, open to all. They should not be closing off any particular time or service to accommodate any one religion or sect. That includes Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, whatever.

    We should have learned by now. No bed sheets in the pool. No special times based on religions.

    1. issac wrote: “One of the tenets this country was founded on focused on religion, freedom of religion but more importantly the separation of church and state or freedom from religion.”

      The SCOTUS has opined that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were the leaders in establishing separation of church and state. Your concept of “freedom FROM religion” is a tenet that Thomas Jefferson characterized as false and slanderous concerning his concept of separation of church and state.

      In a letter Thomas Cooper, Jefferson wrote:
      In our university you know there is no Professorship of Divinity. A handle has been made of this, to disseminate an idea that this is an institution, not merely of no religion, but against all religion. Occasion was taken at the last meeting of the Visitors, to bring forward an idea that might silence this calumny, which weighed on the minds of some honest friends to the institution. In our annual report to the legislature, after stating the constitutional reasons against a public establishment of any religious instruction, we suggest the expediency of encouraging the different religious sects to establish, each for itself, a professorship of their own tenets, on the confines of the university, so near as that their students may attend the lectures there, and have the free use of our library, and every other accommodation we can give them; preserving, however, their independence of us and of each other. This fills the chasm objected to ours, as a defect in an institution professing to give instruction in all useful sciences. I think the invitation will be accepted, by some sects from candid intentions, and by others from jealousy and rivalship. And by bringing the sects together, and mixing them with the mass of other students, we shall soften their asperities, liberalize and neutralize their prejudices, and make the general religion a religion of peace, reason, and morality.

      Freedom OF religion means that the religious sects are beyond the reach of government to control. This is an American concept. Freedom FROM religion means government can prohibit religious expression. This is an un-American concept.

  16. McGill and Harvard are private universities, so who cares. They have a right to accommodate the conflicting demands of their communities how they see fit, as long as they don’t violate natural rights of the people involved. If UCLA or Michigan adopted the same rule, there might be legal considerations that would interest us.

  17. Rule One: If it’s a Muslim demanding it, it is prima facie a poor and anti-American idea.

    In only the rarest instances are the “concerns” of Muslims ever valid or other than an attempt to get more hand-outs and special privileges at the expense of the Infidel who were kind and foolish enough to allow those Muslims to be there in the first place.

  18. Ed,
    Violence? These Muslim women will run amok and riot if they can’t have special hours at the gym? Somehow I just can’t see that.

  19. What’s missing are festivals. Everyone together naked in the pool, everyone together naked in the gym-gym shoes allowed, religion would not stand a chance. It’s time for a new religion, the religion of bared souls.

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