In response to a request from its Muslim Students Association, George Washington University has designated one hour a week for female-only swimming. Female students who observe Islam might otherwise feel uncomfortable using the school’s pool, because they could be seen by men without their hajibs and in immodest clothing. The female swim hour, called Sisters’ Splash, takes just 1/20 of the total recreational swimming hours at the facility.
But apparently some people have been getting pissy about that.
Some see it as too much accommodation for a religious minority. The Washington Post covered the story, and responses in their comments section range from heated to downright offensive. Many express frustration with allowances made for Muslims generally, while one commenter on the site even suggested that if female Muslim students were “too modest to wear ordinary swim-suits when they swim, then maybe they should stop swimming and go see a psychiatrist.”
Whoa. Step back.
Other universities have made similar accommodations for Muslim students, including Harvard‘s experiment with female-only gym hours and a few other universities’ providing of prayer mats and foot baths. In view of this, the move at GWU has precedent. Besides, perhaps female students who are not Muslims, but who would otherwise feel self-conscious about swimming in front of guys, will take advantage of the change. Seems like a good way to encourage use in underused facilities.
Regardless, let’s tone down the anti-Muslim rhetoric.
So what do you think? Is it odd that GWU acted on this request from Muslim students? Or are these commenters out of line? Tell us in the comments.