Paradise (Somewhat) Lost?

The weekend pool hours at the Sallie Tiernan Field House have been adjusted to better fit the needs of Scripps Students (Scripps College/Inside Scripps)

The weekend pool hours at the Sallie Tiernan Field House have been adjusted to better fit the needs of Scripps Students (Scripps College/Inside Scripps)

Unnaturally warm winter temperatures sent many CMS students running to grab their swimsuits upon arriving back in Claremont for spring semester, but access to the Scripps pool might have just gotten trickier.

The resort-like pool facility available to Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Scripps students at the Sallie Tiernan Field House at Scripps is now open at new hours. After months of planning, Scripps Associated Students (SAS) and the Sallie Tiernan Field House adjusted the Friday-Sunday hours to admit only Scripps students from 12-2pm, CMS women and female guests from 2-3pm, and CMS women, men, and guests from 3-5pm. These changes mark shorter hours available to men than the previous schedule.

“Some Scripps students simply feel more comfortable with the women only and Scripps only hours.  It provides a comfortable and relaxed environment that continues the ongoing message of embracing every body,” said Field House employee Olivia Wilson SC ’16.

SAS Student Activities Chair Meredith Kertzman ’13 and President Emily Jovais SC ’13 wrote an article in February 2013 for the Scripps Voice informing the student body of SAS’s motivations to work for changes.

“Last semester, SAS and the Field House staff received numerous complaints about the lack of space and feelings of general discomfort at the pool attributed to the growing number of students from the other colleges,” said Kertzman and Jovais in their article. “Frequently, Scripps students were turned away due to overcapacity and some reported feeling alienated and uncomfortable with conversations and the overall culture of the pool area.”

SAS met with the Field House, and put out a survey to Scripps students to understand their motivations (or lack thereof) for using the pool facility to better accommodate the greatest number of students possible.

SAS responded by changing the hours, but is that the only way to ensure all students will feel comfortable in the shared space?

Concern about body image (48%), lack of lounge chaises/chairs (43%), and inconvenient pool hours (32%) were cited as the top reasons students did not go to the pool according to Kertzman and Jovais. Additionally, an email that Field House director Tamsen Burke sent to the Scripps community stated that 87% of Scripps students responded that they preferred implementing women-only hours and 73% said they preferred implementing Scripps-only hours. After discussing with SAS, the Field House met with CMC and Harvey Mudd to determine the new hours for CMS students.

SAS committed to the arduous process of changing hours with the hope that the changes made would clear the “general feelings of discomfort” felt by students. Significantly, this involved incorporating Scripps-only hours and shortening hours available to men.

“SAS is happy with the result and confident that these changes address the principal concerns raised by students,” said Kertzman and Jovais, stating that the new hours are “a direct reflection of student feedback.”

“Even though [the pool] has become somewhat more exclusive, the limited hours have provided the Scripps community with another comfortable environment that is stress-free.  I am not sure that the all-student hours were stressful or how they were so much different, but it seems to be working out for the Scripps students,” said Wilson about the response she has noticed since the change in hours.

The widely accepted norm for the pool atmosphere calls for minimal clothing and a social ambiance, and students responded to the survey that they enjoy the space for relaxation. Though not stated directly, undertones in Kertzman’s and Jovais’ article reflect that the presence of men made a relaxing atmosphere impossible for some Scripps students. SAS responded by changing the hours, but is that the only way to ensure all students will feel comfortable in the shared space?

Stephanie Steinbrecher is Editor-in-Chief of the Port Side. She attends Scripps College, where she is pursuing a B.A. in English and a minor in Environmental Analysis. You may reach her at editor@claremontportside.com.




4 Responses to “Paradise (Somewhat) Lost?”

  1. Stagtastic! says:

    This policy isn’t going to work. The CMC gym is getting renovated as its the Pitzer gym. Hours next year will need to be changed to prevent overcrowding so you now have two pools available.

  2. Feminist says:

    Doesn’t this basically prove Shannon Miller’s point (http://cmcforum.com/opinion/02052013-dont-like-the-gender-gap-dont-encourage-it) that women’s colleges aren’t the healthiest environments for strong independent women to be educated in? I mean, if so many Scripps women feel uncomfortable going to the pool at the same time as men, imagine how they’ll feel sharing the boardroom with them!

  3. Naked Boardroom Babe says:

    Very true, Feminist. As a strong, independent CMC woman, I am fully prepared to go into the boardroom naked and ready to get down to business. It’s unfortunate that Scripps doesn’t prepare their students similarly.

  4. Nancy, SCR '09 says:

    First, some women at Scripps follow religious beliefs that make women-only pool hours necessary if we want to be inclusive and allow them access to the pool.

    Second, being a strong, independent woman does not necessarily require that you at all times feel 100% comfortable in your own skin. I’d allege that while women have come a long way in terms of asserting our intelligence, worth in the workplace, executive capabilities, and other qualities which we supposedly lacked, we have progressed the least in terms of asserting the worth of our bodies. Our bodies are the subject of constant evaluation and we are painfully aware of this fact, often even inflicting that evaluation upon ourselves (though through the lens of standards set by others). This relentless scrutiny, as you may imagine, is tiresome. It’s a huge relief to be free from it – to be in a setting away from critical gazes (even if those critiques are positive). Even as someone who is secure in her body image, I enjoy my time more and feel more relaxed during times I do not have to worry about my outward physical presentation.

    While I do not know the current atmosphere of the Scripps pool, I understand from this article that at times it may feel uninviting to Scripps students and can venture as to why this might be. At the pool, people are exposed and subjected to a heightened evaluative process. I don’t think I’m beyond my rights in saying that nearly-naked bodies of all genders are going to be treated as visual objects and judged aesthetically. For women, who are constantly judged in this way even while clothed, and who understand that they likely do not meet the numerous beauty standards thrust upon us, this heightened evaluation may be too bothersome and annoying to deal with at a time when we just wanted to chill at the pool and enjoy the sunshine. The presence of men, and possibly women, from other colleges, detracts from the relaxing experience Scripps students likely seek at our pool. Although Scripps students frequently engage in deconstructing body image standards and understand their harmful effects, students from other colleges may not, and they may bring their critical gazes with them to the poolside. And although Scripps students frequently enjoy sharing progressive views of the female body with others, and want to engage in deconstructing beyond our walls, we may not want to do it at the pool. We may not want our pool to become yet another site in which we have to struggle against oppressive regimes, or educate fellow 5Cers about the hazards of inflicting narrow aesthetic values upon the various beautiful forms the female body takes. Yes, we are a vigilant group of strong, independent people, but sometimes we also just want to have fun. The Scripps-only and women-only pool hours help with that.


Leave a Reply

Published with support from Generation Progress. genprogress.org

Copyright © 2014 Claremont Port Side.