The University of Connecticut’s Recreation Center has implemented a new dress code that allows patrons to self-determine appropriate sport and exercise clothing, according to university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
UConn Undergraduate Student Government President Priyanka Thakkar said the previous policy was hard to follow and enforce consistently.
“Students will not be egregiously checked, and the strict part has been eliminated entirely,” Thakkar said. “We wanted to come up with solutions for students to feel comfortable and be able to express themselves.”
According to the UConn Rec website, the new Proper Attire policy reads: “Participants are requested to wear appropriate sport or exercise clothing and footwear while utilizing the facilities operated and managed by UConn Recreation. Safety apparel and equipment associated with specific programs is required.”
Individual recreation programs may have specific requirements of safe apparel, according to Reitz.
“Each recreation program will determine which safety apparel and equipment is required to mitigate risk and safely participate in that program,” Reitz said. “Those changes will be reflected in the policy manual, which is being updated.”
The policy change comes after students voiced their frustration with being dress coded by UConn Rec employees while at the gym.
“Students with body positivity issues felt like they were being called out by UConn Rec,” Walter Dodson, USG Chief of Staff to the President, said. “Even though it was purely based on clothing, we hope that now students feel comfortable going to the gym and being there.”
UConn Rec also started a system where they keep track of who they are dress coding and why, a way in which Dodson said UConn Rec can isolate the problem if it is only with a certain group and address it.
“The Rec Center made a commitment to keep up on analysis of enforcement,” Dodson said.
In the past, students who were dress coded had the option to sign out appropriate clothes, including shirts and shorts, but with the new dress policy, those are now available to anyone to sign out.
The new dress policy was created after conversations with Rec Center administration, Undergraduate Student Government members and other students. Thakkar said the process was truly a collaboration among students and administration, including Cyndi Constanzo, Executive Director of UConn Rec, Michael Gilbert, Vice President of Student Affairs and Eleanor Daugherty, Dean of Students.
“Students and USG were a catalyst, however I really commend Cyndi, Eleanor and Michael for facilitating the conversation and were able to push this initiative for the students,” Thakkar said. “This is a great example of collaborative conversations between students and administration. They were very considerate of our voices and we were able to have a productive change.”