A college freshman says she was kicked out of her school’s gym for wearing a shirt that exposed her stomach.
Grace DiChristina, 18, is a student at Santa Clara University in Northern California, BuzzFeed News reported. The sociology major said she has a history of standing up for what she believes is right.
“I am very opinionated and when something doesn’t feel right or fair to me, I have to do something about it,” DiChristina told BuzzFeed News.
DiChristina was reportedly working out in her school’s gym in January when she was approached by a staff member.
“A weight room assistant came up to me as I was about to get on the elliptical and told me she had been radioed to ask me to leave,” DiChristina said.
DiChristina was reportedly asked to leave because her shirt exposed her stomach. She had been told before by a staff member that her shirt was “inappropriate” but said she didn’t know the gym had a dress code policy.
“I’ve never seen anyone else get in trouble or heard of anyone being removed from the gym before,” DiChristina said.
DiChristina spoke with the athletic director. She was reportedly told that the dress code was in place because Santa Clara University is a Jesuit school, as well as to prevent MRSA, a type of staph infection.
Still, DiChristina said she felt discriminated against because she is a female. She took to Facebook to slam the university's dress code policy:
The fact that this is a Jesuit school should absolutely not be linked to the dress code at the gym. I do not go to the gym to be sexualized or looked at by other people — I go to improve my health and my self-confidence. Being told to leave the facility because my outfit is inappropriate is more than just annoying; it’s humiliating and degrading. My workouts become much less enjoyable when I have to worry about people looking at my body. Santa Clara Broncos advocate for becoming strong and fit, but the fact that I was kicked out means that I could not work out today.
I absolutely agree that MRSA is a serious illness and we should address it. However, shaming women for what they wear to the gym is not the way to prevent it. When I was removed from the gym, I was just told it was to ‘prevent MRSA’ with no more explanation, so I had to go home and research it for myself. If we are really concerned solely with MRSA, then I support spreading information about it. We could put up flyers showing what symptoms look like and what to do if someone thinks they have it. We could also institute a rule to clean equipment both before and after use. Not sharing towels and wiping down machines are much better ways to prevent MRSA than forcing women to either cover their stomachs or leave.
DiChristina also wrote that men would wear “muscle tees with long armholes” at the gym and not be reprimanded.
“I decided to post on Facebook because I was confused, upset, and outraged at the blatant sexism behind these rules,” she told BuzzFeed News.
School spokeswoman Tina Vossugh said the policy is in place solely to prevent MRSA and has nothing to do with Jesuit standards.
“MRSA thrives in sweat and that is why our university and many others nationwide are working toward limiting as much skin contact as possible with equipment and wearing enough clothing to catch sweat as you are working out,” Vossugh said.
Vossugh added that the university will work to better enforce their policy on men.