Crop tops and sports bras are officially considered appropriate gym attire at St. Thomas University.
“It’s appropriate exercise attire,” university spokesman Jeffrey Carleton said.
Two months ago, the university apologized to MacKenzie Parsons, who was told by a staff member that her crop top was not allowed in the school gymnasium because it was awkward. Parsons’ social media post about the event caught the attention of students and the media.
Now, the university has released a new policy, primarily dealing with safety and etiquette. According to the policy, items that cannot be worn are those with zippers, studs and snaps that can get caught and cause injury.
“There’s no judgment on clothing or appearance,” Carleton said. “These are basic common sense rules. And we rely on the good judgment of gym patrons to make decisions for themselves.”
I think it’s really awesome, honestly, because I think it’s probably happened to other people in the gym too and they didn’t say anything.– MacKenzie Parsons, fourth year student.
Previously, St. Thomas JB O’Keefe Fitness Center had no dress code, which Carleton said made it difficult to know how to respond to a student complaining about inappropriate comments from staff.
“Because we lacked politics, we had no basis on which to deal with the problem,” he said. “When you make a mistake and realize you’ve made a mistake, the right thing to do is apologize.”
Along with the administration and the athletic department, Parsons was consulted on the policy before it was released. She said she was satisfied with the result.
“I think it’s really great, honestly, because I think it’s probably happened to other people in the gym too and they didn’t say anything and they were just like… ‘Whatever, I’ll just go put my shirt on,” she said.
Parsons didn’t just let it go, she said, because “I was really angry at the time.”
Carleton said this isn’t the first time a student complaint has resulted in policy changes. Parsons said she had no plans to call for a new policy, but wanted people to know what happened.
“I was shocked by the response, like a lot of support [people] and like even, like, the gym gave me a lot of support to come back and say, you know, like, ‘You can wear that.'”
Carleton said the university received dozens of emails and messages after Parsons’ post.
“That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s actually a significant number when people take the time to reach out,” Carleton said.
Parsons said this policy is important because it will give her something to refer to if she says her clothes are too inconvenient.
“If it happens again, I will report the policy,” she said. “I think it’s very important…I think they should have had it a long time ago, so I could go in there and be like ‘Oh, I have the right to wear this’ and be able to go to them and be, like, ‘You kicked me out, but about politics, he’s saying this.'”