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GW offers female-only swim for Muslim students

October 18, 2010 - 04:30 PM
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Muslim women at G.W. get their own swim hour (Photo: Associated Press)

The GW Hatchet is reporting that the George Washington University has begun offering women-only sessions at the school's Foggy Bottom indoor pool. The program, started this fall, is called "Sister Splash," and it's offered weekly to accommodate female Muslim students like sophomore Zainah Khan:

When Zainah Khan packed for GW last year, she left her swimsuit behind.


The Saudi Arabian native knew she wouldn't be able to swim in the Lerner Health and Wellness Center because it is open to both male and female students.

If she donned a bathing suit in HelWell, the sophomore would risk being seen without her hijab—a headscarf worn by some Muslim women in public—and in immodest clothing, which goes against the basic tenants of her religion.


. . . . Khan said to swim in a pool where men could see her, she would have to cover her entire body, including wearing something over her head.

"You could swim around men, but it would be hard, it would be a hassle," Khan said.

The university plans to achieve "Sister Splash" by closing the pool to men, covering the glass door with a tarp, and employing a female lifeguard.

Many municipal and school pools offer similar women-only swim hours, including the pool at Rutger's University. According to Rutgers' website, the university offers classes with "a female instructor and a female lifeguard on hand to teach women who cannot, or prefer not to, participate in co-ed swimming programs." During classes, pool doors are "locked to ensure privacy." The women-only class comes with one caveat: "during medical emergencies, Rutgers Recreation cannot guarantee that first responders (EMS personnel) will be female."



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  1. hippypunk hippypunk

    Jon Fawkes

    Oct 19, 2010 - 08:50:18 AM

    Religion is a choice, not a disability that need to be accommodated. Ridiculous.

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    • hippypunk hippypunk

      Jon Fawkes

      Oct 20, 2010 - 02:57:12 PM

      BTW - The CRA of 64 had to do with employment, not special compensation.

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    • hippypunk hippypunk

      Jon Fawkes

      Oct 20, 2010 - 02:51:45 PM

      I think you are being patronizing to women. If we are all equal, we need to behave that way. Not ask for special compensation. Again, the impetus was religious, which is a choice. Being a woman isn't a choice ( generally) - it is half the population. If this strictly religiously based, a male counterpart should be a given. If it is uncomfortable for females to out of "modest" clothing for religious reasons. It should be equally religiously uncomfortable for muslim males. They shouldn't be burdened by seeing uncovered flesh. OR... We can realize that we a secular multicultural nation whose social norms don't require women to hide themselves behind a wall of curtains. This is a freedom issue not strictly a women's issue. Our culture gives women the right to act equally to males in our society. If because of religious convictions they chose not to exercise that freedom the rest of society should not validate it by accommodating it. It is a choice that they are making not to fully participate in our society. Ok, fine don't participate. It's on you then. It is their choice, not our burden.

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