Nicole Mastrocinque, a senior at Stony Brook University, went to the Campus Recreation Center on Friday, Nov. 9, just as she has been doing six days a week since her freshman year. However, this time, her experience was different from the others.
While working out in the cardiovascular area, Mastrocinque was approached by a staff member and was told that what she was wearing was inappropriate, Mastrocinque claimed.
“I cut off the sleeves of my shirts. It just makes it a lot easier at the gym, I don’t have to roll them up when I get all sweaty. The shirt was only here midway,” Mastrocinque said, gesturing to just below her rib cage. “But yes, it did show my sports bra.”
Mastrocinque said the staff member asked her if she had another shirt to change into, and when Mastrocinque said she did not, the staff member told her not to wear a shirt like that the next time she came to the center.
On the “Policy and Procedure” page of the Campus Recreation website, it states that in the cardiovascular area, “shirts required at all times, cut-offs or altered shirts prohibited.” The policy is the same in the weight room and in fitness classes at the center.
Mastrocinque says she was unaware of the policy, which has been in effect since Fall 2012, according to Jay Souza, the director of Campus Recreation. But Mastrocinque’s problem is not with the policy itself, but rather with how it is enforced.
After she was approached by the staff member, Mastrocinque moved from the cardiovascular area to the weight room, where she saw a female acquaintance wearing a cut-off shirt similar to the one Mastrocinque was wearing.
“I noticed a bandage underneath her cut shirt, so I said, ‘Did they tell you you couldn’t wear your cut shirt?’ and she said, ‘Yes. That’s why I put this bandage around me,’ ” Mastrocinque said. The bandage covered the female student’s sports bra and all skin that would be exposed by the cut-off sleeves.
Mastrocinque also saw male students wearing shirts with cut-off sleeves.
“I asked one of the male students if they told him he couldn’t wear that shirt, and he said no,” Mastrocinque said.
After she was done working out, Mastrocinque went up to the staff members at the front, told them what happened and asked that the policy be enforced equally among men and women, Mastrocinque said.
Mastrocinque also emailed Souza a description of the incident and the same request, that the policy be enforced equally.
“Thanks for letting me know,” Souza responded, according to Mastrocinque. “Our policy is consistently enforced for both men and women, so I will address the staff.”
Souza said he has discussed it with his staff members.
“We even put this on our Advisory Board agenda to discuss for feedback,” he said.
“It’s their policy and if I have to respect it, I will. I just hope it is evenly dispersed,” Mastrocinque said. “If you are going to have this policy, don’t tell some people and make it slightly biased towards females rather than males. If this is a policy they are going to implement, then implement it. If you are not going to implement it, then take it away.”
Correction: Nov. 20, 2015
A previous version of this story was published under the wrong author’s name. The story was written by Aleeza Kazmi.