This post is for all those who have criticized The List on the grounds that it is insensitive, while ignoring stories like this that are a clear violation of church and state. Just like the footbaths in airport bathrooms and Muslim cabbies who refuse to allow guide dogs in their cabs, tolerance leads to the further restriction of our rights.
Harvard University has moved to make Muslim women more comfortable in the gym by instituting women-only access times six hours a week to accommodate religious customs that make it difficult for some students to work out in the presence of men.
Men have not been allowed to enter the Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center during certain times since Jan. 28, after members of the Harvard Islamic Society and the Harvard Women's Center petitioned the university for a more comfortable environment for women.
Harvard Islamic Society's Islamic Knowledge Committee officer Ola Aljawhary, a junior, said the women-only hours are being tested on a trial basis. The special gym hours will be analyzed over Spring Break to determine if they will continue, she said.
Aljawhary said that she does not believe that the women-only gym hours discriminate against men.
"These hours are necessary because there is a segment of the Harvard female population that is not found in gyms not because they don't want to work out, but because for them working out in a co-ed gym is uncomfortable, awkward or problematic in some way," she said.
Though the policy was in part initiated by the school's Islamic group, Aljawhary said women-only hours are not a case of "minority rights trumping majority preference" and said women of different faiths have showed interest in the hours.
"We live together in one community, it only makes sense for everyone to compromise slightly in order for everyone to live happily," she said. "This matter is simple: Can't we just display basic decency and show tolerance and inclusion for people not a part of the mainstream majority?"
Sure, that's why we need to settle separate time to accommodate every religion known to the campus...right? Or is this accommodation strictly for one group?
Harvard junior Nick Wells said he believes the women-only hours are inconvenient for the residents that live near the facility and discriminate against men.
"It is unfair to impose a stringent policy that inhibits [students] from using their own facility in order to further a useless policy that doesn't have any real effect," he said.
In other words, how exactly are these women harmed by simply being in the presence of men?