A bitter row has erupted at an ancient Cambridge college after students advertised women and non-binary only gym sessions.
Posters went up around Girton College introducing one hour sessions for women and those who identify as non-binary to have the gym and swimming pool to themselves.
The posters have prompted protests from some students leading to the posters being defaced and the terms “women/non-binary” crossed out and replaced with “everyone”.
The poster read: “Men, please be respectful and do not come in.”
According to the student news site The Tab, Girtonians reported a male student waiting outside the gym during the allotted period, taking a stance against the session.
The ancient college was the first women’s college in Cambridge and was also the first of the women’s colleges to be co-educational over thirty years ago.
The hour was originally initiated by the JCR Women’s Officer and had the College Council support to run the session.
In response to the backlash, Girton’s Senior Tutor, Sandra Fulton, emailed students emphasising the College’s support of the JCR’s scheme.
The email read: “It has come to my attention that some students find it contentious that there is a women-only gym and swimming pool hour.
“If anyone has issues with this channel they should make it known by an appropriate channel, which is via me or via your tutor.”
On Facebook, however, the conflict has only intensified.
Following a post by the JCR Women’s Officer, which stated that she was “very disappointed” by the vandalism, students took to social media to debate the incident.
Some Girton students questioned whether the woman and non-binary hour was an appropriate response to students’ needs while others wanted to extend the length of the session.
The JCR told The Tab: “The JCR unanimously supports the women/non-binary gym and pool hour initiative.
“We as the Girton JCR will not tolerate acts of vandalism of any sort, especially those which aim to disrespect provisions for marginalised groups.”
Although tensions continue to grow online, the woman and non-binary hour is not on course to be repealed.
by Emilia Bruce-Watt