Colleges strive to create welcoming, inclusive communities for students from every background. But a new effort at George Washington University has scores of critics and supporters abuzz with heated comments that continue to pour in on various blogs and news articles.
At the request of the university’s Muslim Students’ Association, George Washington began offering a once-weekly, female-only swim hour in March. But it only recently turned into an online debate over issues of religious and sexual discrimination and — though not always explicitly — racism, spurred by an article in the student newspaper, The GW Hatchet.
The Lerner Health and Wellness Center pool closes to men for one of the 20 hours it’s open each week, with a tarp blocking the view through the glass door and a female lifeguard on duty. The university declined to comment for this article beyond a two-sentence statement that said its officials are reviewing the closure while they establish a formal recreational swim policy.
A few highlights from Internet comments on The Washington Post’s and TBD’s recent coverage of the swim hour: “Should a minuscule minority force the overwhelming majority [to] abide by their rules or should it be the other way around?” “Western society should not accommodate to Islam on this point; it is Islam that should change.” And in rebuttal: “Come on, folks. An hour a week — what’s the big deal?” “It’s not an unreasonable request. ‘Women’ is like *half* the population.”