The Technion's gym has decided to restrict entry to men only for two hours a week, causing an uproar among students at Haifa's technological institute.
"The Student Union decided to consider the needs of the religious public following an appeal made by 80 male students," says the Technion's Student Union spokesperson, Tamir Mansur. "They explained to the Union's representatives that they were finding it difficult to train in the presence of girls."
Yael Avital, the Technion's Student Union chairwoman, asked the institution's sports club to offer separate training hours for men and women. According to the agreement, religious students may now visit the gym twice a week, from 11:30 pm to 12:30 am, without fearing the presence of women.
"There is no exclusion of women here," adds Mansur. "We must consider the needs of students who don’t want to train alongside women – and we're working to also let girls train without the presence of men. Such a request has also been made."
But not all students were satisfied with the decision. "My girlfriend and I train together at night – and suddenly, I'm the only one who can enter the gym while my girlfriend is not allowed to," says Ofer, a Technion student.
"This is outrageous. First buses,
then singing in the army,
and now an academic institution? This is a clear case of exclusion of women."
The Technion spokesperson's office said in response, "The Technion has been protecting the privacy of religious students at the swimming pool for years, and this procedure is now being applied at the gym as well.
"We decided to apply the separation if at least 30 male or female religious students sign up and demand to train at the gym. Twenty-one male students signed up and no female students.
"The gym will be open to the regular student public on regular hours. We have added special days – the late hours of Monday and Wednesday – for the religious public, so female students are hardly affected."