STU­DENT TOLD TO ‘COVER UP’

A Fresno State stu­dent says she was body shamed af­ter she was asked by a male gym em­ployee to cover up.

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY YESENIA AMARO ya­[email protected]­nobee.com Yesenia Amaro: 559-441-6144, @Ye­se­ni­aA­maro

Fresno State stu­dent Leila Mori was on her sec­ond tread­mill mile at Fresno State’s Rec Sports & Fit­ness cen­ter, when last month a male em­ployee ap­proached with a re­quest.

“Cover up.”

The 30-year-old ju­nior stu­dent was wear­ing high­waist yoga pants and a sports bra, with only about 2 inches-and-a-half of skin ex­posed.

The em­ployee asked if she had a shirt, and Mori said she com­plied with the re­quest.

The stu­dent em­ployee said it was gym pol­icy to al­ways have a shirt on. “I con­tin­ued to do my cool down, but I couldn’t help feel like that was so wrong,” she said. “I felt very sad and I felt very, like, ashamed in an in­stant.”

Mori said not only was her gym at­tire not in­ap­pro­pri­ate, she feels poli­cies like Fresno State’s op­press women — a form of body sham­ing.

A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion is also play­ing out at Clo­vis Uni­fied School Dis­trict, where fe­male ath­letes say they are also be­ing body shamed.

Although Mori was asked to cover up when the in­ci­dent hap­pened back in Au­gust, she noted there were about half a dozen men work­ing out with “deep cut-off shirts,” barely cov­er­ing their up­per bod­ies.

Mori said she ap­proached a fe­male su­per­vi­sor to get an­swers about why she was be­ing sin­gled out, but her con­cerns fell on deaf ears.

The su­per­vi­sor had said a male stu­dent ear­lier in the day had been told he was in vi­o­la­tion of the pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to Mori.

Yet, that su­per­vi­sor didn’t take any ac­tion with the men vi­o­lat­ing the pol­icy as they spoke, Mori said. “I kept telling her ‘This is not OK — you are sham­ing me’,” she said.

Mori sent an email to Derek A. Wal­ters, di­rec­tor of the Rec Sports & Fit­ness Cen­ter. He de­fended the ac­tion taken against Mori, and re­ferred her to the gym’s guide­lines.

The gym’s pol­icy states “a shirt cov­er­ing the torso must be worn at all times in the Fit­ness Cen­ter,” among other sport­ing lo­ca­tions.

“Were you al­lowed to en­ter (at the front desk) wear­ing your sports bra or was it cov­ered?” Wal­ters wrote in his email re­sponse to Mori. “Our fa­cil­ity staff usu­ally ex­plain the pol­icy if some­one at­tempts to en­ter in at­tire that is out­side our pol­icy and will ask them to be within the pol­icy be­fore en­ter­ing the ac­tiv­ity area.”

Wal­ters didn’t re­spond to Mori’s fol­low-up email ask­ing why no ac­tion had been taken with the male stu­dents.

Wal­ters told The Bee that the uni­ver­sity’s pol­icy, for the torso to be cov­ered, has been in place since 2006, and it’s in line with other col­lege cam­puses.

The gym, Wal­ters said, doesn’t keep track of pol­icy vi­o­la­tors, male or fe­male. “We are not going to see ev­ery­one,” he told The Bee. “But we try to do our best to en­force it equally.”

In a state­ment to The Bee, Carolyn Coon, dean of stu­dents at Fresno State, said of­fi­cials “strive to en­sure that all stu­dents are treated equally and fairly” at the on-cam­pus gym.

“Staff mem­bers of the Stu­dent Recre­ation Cen­ter do their best to en­sure that all our poli­cies are mon­i­tored and han­dled eq­ui­tably for all stu­dents,” she said.

Sev­eral other stu­dents told The Bee it’s com­mon for men to wear small, cut off tank tops barely cov­er­ing their up­per bod­ies.

Mori says she was also told she had been asked to cover up be­cause of safety rea­sons, which doesn’t make sense to her.

She plans to file a Ti­tle IX com­plaint next week against the school. Ti­tle IX is a fed­eral law that en­sures male and fe­male stu­dents and em­ploy­ees in ed­u­ca­tional set­tings are treated equally and fairly.

YESENIA AMARO ya­[email protected]­nobee.com

Leila Mori, a Fresno State stu­dent, says she was sex­u­ally dis­crim­i­nated against at the uni­ver­sity's gym when a male staff mem­ber asked her to cover up be­cause she was wear­ing a sports bra.

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