The backlash came after a "women and non-binary only" hour was introducedAlice Mainwood for Varsity

Homerton’s JCR has shot down calls for a “male-only” gym session, after a new time slot specifically for women and non-binary users triggered backlash from some students.

Ben Ward, president of the Homerton Union of Students (HUS), stated that calls for a male-only gym hour “give the same energy as people responding ‘Not all men’ to the ‘Me too’ movement”.

The women’s hour gym policy was formulated in response to a college-wide survey by the HUS with the stated aim of fostering a “more inclusive and progressive environment for all”.

Whilst the HUS’ Sports Officer told Varsity that student reactions to the women’s hour have been “overwhelmingly positive”, minutes from one of the college’s Union of Student meetings shows President Ben Ward putting down “requests for a ‘men’s only hour’”.

Ward responded to the requests, stating: “as men are the majority and have no historical oppression dictated by their gender, the HUS does not support and will not facilitate a male-only hour in the gym.”

Andreas Velimachitis, Sports Officer, told Varsity that the backlash represents “nothing more than a highly niche view.”

He added: “There has generally been a consensus across all genders that it’s an overwhelmingly positive policy that should have been implemented long ago.”

One student echoed the need for the sentiment, telling Varsity that “every hour is men’s hour in the gym”.

An anonymous quote on the College’s confessions page addressed the minority dissatisfied with the new gym policy: “It’s one hour a week, I think you need to work on your sense of entitlement and stop whining.”

In his statement, Ward also cited religious reasons as a key reason to institute the policy to support women’s participation in gym spaces.

Alongside the ‘Me too,’ analogy, Ward said that calls for a men-only hour “give [...] the same energy as ‘White lives matter’ in response to ‘Black lives matter,’ and the same energy as heterosexual people asking for a ‘Straight Pride’.”


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According to Velimachitis, “Homerton has always considered itself a progressive college, [but] there has been a key deficiency with regards to representing those identifying as women and non-binary in college sport.”

He stressed that the College student body has “made leaps and bounds” in the creation and improvement of previously non-existent or male-dominated exercise, citing the establishment of the popular Homerton Dance Society, the success of the Women’s and Non-Binary Football Team, and “a huge uptick in female participation in wider College sport”.

“However, it remains to be seen whether this rule will continue to be respected by all in the short-term and long-term, and whether the sorely needed repairs and equipment will be set up so that the Homerton Gym can become a truly more inclusive space,” Velimachitis said.