According to UCLA Recreation rules and regulations, students must wear full-backed shirts to recreational facilities like the Bruin Fitness Center and John Wooden Center.
I was unaware of this dress code regulation until, earlier this quarter, I was called out by a Bruin Fitness Center staff member for donning a black cropped tank to the gym. The staff member told me that I needed to cover up my exposed midriff. Forced to conclude my ab workout with the loose fringe of my Hollister cover-up catching all over my sweaty body, I left the gym that night in disbelief that I couldn’t wear a cropped tank top to exercise.
In past gyms I’ve worked out in, no such rule existed. I was curious about what the premise behind the full-backed shirt rule was, as well as how many UCLA students were aware such a rule existed.
Upon asking Bruin Fitness Center regulars whether they had heard of the rule prohibiting open-backed shirts from being worn at UCLA recreational facilities, most stated that they did not know the rule existed.
Melissa Can, second-year mathematics/economics student, was oblivious to the rule prior to our interview. Can said we come to college as adults and expect to be treated as such. The fact that girls can’t wear crop tops to the gym and guys can’t work out shirtless undermines the essence of being an adult – that is, making our own decisions.
First-year business economics student Jonathan Chang said students should be able to wear anything they feel comfortable in to work out.
With such unease associated with this rule, many students must be wondering why it is in place.
According to Elisa Terry, director of FITWELL services at John Wooden Center, the full-length shirt rule, which applies to both male and female students, is set primarily to protect fitness equipment, as sweat can cause damage to equipment and upholstery. Terry concedes that it is true sweaty shirts and towels can also damage furniture, but at least wearing a full-length shirt provides a barrier between the skin and equipment as an extra layer of protection. Moreover, this rule is meant to limit the spread of disease that can be transmitted via sweat.
Terry, who has been working at UCLA for the past 10 years, said such a rule was already in place when she first started working here.
She admits that the full-backed shirt rule is not as clear as it should be, both in language and accessibility. In the Bruin Fitness Center, the bulletin board of rules resides in the back the weight-lifting area, making it easy for students to miss. The small font and ambiguous wording of the rule make it even less accessible to students.
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According to Terry, measures are currently being taken to increase the rule’s transparency so students can enjoy uninterrupted workouts. In the future, a picture illustrating the full-back shirt rule may be posted to ensure that gym-goers are completely aware of proper gym attire. The rules will be posted on the UCLA Recreation website and moved to more conspicuous locations in recreation facilities.
While this rule has raised eyebrows among students, Terry states that it is implemented only to keep gym facilities clean and maintain the facilities that keep students healthy.
I am still of the mind that people should be able to wear what they want to work out, but I understand that in a college campus where disease is easily spread, strict measures must be taken to ensure student health.