In response to sustained student opposition and a resolution passed by the Student Association (SA) Congress, administrators at East Gym are reportedly considering the elimination of the current dress code.
The SA Congress unanimously passed a resolution in December of last year, urging Campus Recreation to revise the dress code at East Gym, allowing students the flexibility to wear clothing that exposes their torso. The resolution, championed by Mackenzie Cooper and Batia Rabin, both sophomores majoring in philosophy, politics, and law, aimed to foster inclusivity and coherence within the dress code. Nearly a year later, discussions at the Nov. 7 SA Congress meeting and insights from Cooper suggest that the resolution may be influencing a potential policy change at East Gym.
Cooper, the chair of the SA Congress’ Finance Committee and a Dickinson Community representative, shared in an email, “Now, almost one year after our original piece of legislation was passed, I was informed by one of my peers that the East Gym employees have been told by their administrators to ‘phase out the dress code’ once and for all.”
The initial resolution emerged in the wake of student-led protests and a petition garnering over 150 signatures, demanding reform of the dress code. According to the petition, although the dress code had been in existence since 2013, strict enforcement only commenced in the fall semester of 2022.
Currently, the East Gym’s dress code mandates full-length shirts with sleeves and “modest” full-coverage shorts, prohibiting exposure of the torso, stomach, back, ribcage, and chest. The FitSpace at East Gym has an even more specific dress code, requiring shirts to reach the waistband of all bottoms. Campus Recreation asserts that the policy aims to reduce the risk of illness and protect equipment from degradation.
The resolution argued for a shift in focus from the dress code to the policy of equipment sanitation. Cooper and Rabin proposed stricter enforcement of equipment wiping practices, asserting that it would contribute to illness prevention and equipment protection while allowing students more freedom in their gym attire.
While Laura Cichostepski, Campus Recreation’s assistant director of marketing, stated that administrators are exploring options, she emphasized that there is nothing official to share at this time.
Cooper and Rabin also highlighted the need for greater specificity in the dress code. They observed inconsistencies in the identification of acceptable attire on posters in the FitSpace, advocating for clearer guidelines to prevent unequal enforcement.
Following the resolution’s passage, a meeting with East Gym administrators, including Clyde Robinson, the former director of campus recreational services, resulted in an agreement to provide more comprehensive images of permitted clothing and a change in the policy’s name from “dress code” to “health policy.”
Though the exact reforms remain unclear, Cooper expressed enthusiasm for the potential changes, stating, “It is so fulfilling to know that as a student, I was able to make real change happen on my college campus, and that my efforts to continue to follow through on this piece of legislation and my push for real, substantial change was accomplished.”