Equality in aquatic department at WSU

University Recreation promotes inclusivity as one of its goals, but that goal is being challenged within the aquatics department of University Recreation (UREC) at Washington State University.

In the aquatics department, ‘women’s only swim’ takes place twice a week at Smith Pool in Bohler Gym.

WSU has a student population of 52 percent women and 48 percent men on all campuses, according to WSU’s quick fact website.

Promoting gender specific activities at UREC is not necessarily meeting the goal of inclusivity within the aquatics department.

Because these percentages represent about an equal amount of students of each gender, an equal opportunity should be provided for both genders in the aquatics program.

Only women are allowed to lifeguard the hour of free swim and “individuals who identify as a female” are welcome to join, according to the University Recreation website.

‘Women’s only swim’ serves women who want privacy while swimming.

“A number of years ago, a group of women requested there be women’s only swim with specific requests based off of religion,” said Jeff Elbracht, UREC director of facilities and finance for two and a half years.

Some women said that they cannot be in the same space as men during an activity like swimming, Elbracht said.

UREC would have more of a welcoming environment if men’s only activities were added to the UREC aquatics schedule.

“It is nice to see women feeling comfortable at the pool, I wish we could offer that same chance for men,” said Abby Myers, a UREC employee of two semesters and a frequent lifeguard of ‘women’s only swim.’

Women are not the only people who get uncomfortable or want privacy while in a pool setting.

Discriminating against ‘men’s only’ activities does not match up with the UREC goal of promoting inclusivity.

It is unfair to the men who want to participate in men’s only swimming but never have the opportunity to because ‘women’s only swim’ is the only gender-specific activity offered by the aquatics department.

It is frustrating that anactivity mostly everyone enjoys, and might enjoy with their specific gender, is only offered for women. It would be both beneficial to the WSU community and fit UREC’s goal of inclusivity if ‘men’s only swim’ was offered as well.

However, Men’s Health Month, also known as ‘Movember,’ will take place in November at University Recreation. UREC and WSU Health and Wellness join together to put on a campaign that focuses on men’s health.

The event brings awareness to men’s health issues like testicular and prostate cancer.

Movember has been put on by UREC for about three years. Men’s events are put on throughout the month.

There is also the question of how many men would participate in the program if it were to be created.

As of now, fewer than 10 women partake in ‘women’s only swim’ on average at Smith Pool on Monday and Wednesday nights from 7 – 8 p.m.

Despite the number of participants, it is the opportunity for the aquatics patron that counts.

UREC aquatics should create ‘men’s only swim’ in the future.

Even though employees of the aquatics department recognize it, it is an issue of equality and progressive action that is needed if UREC wishes to maintain inclusivity.

Kellie Langan is a junior studying communication from Bellevue. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this Column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of The Office of Student Media.