Nine rules for appropriate university gym behavior

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Last week, during a routine set of crunches in the UC gym, I was unsuspectingly assaulted by a complete stranger, otherwise known as a fellow member of our campus community. While I was sprawled out on that germ-laden mat in the corner of the room in between two similarly sprawled-out fellow gym-goers, a male student doing a brief walk-by stopped, stared at me, and cocked his head to one side so he could get a better look up my shorts.

There is no one more aware of the chronic shortage of women at Carnegie Mellon than women themselves. But gentlemen, please. We know that fighting for women-only gym hours at a place like Carnegie Mellon is a losing battle, but try to keep the UC gym a gawk-free zone. Tighten that slack jaw. Eyes on our sweat-laden faces. Shooting a glance in the direction of a member of the opposite sex that isn’t met with a dirty look is a delicate operation. So, male patrons of the UC gym, as in any athletic activity, remember that it’s important to play by the rules.

1. Don’t make us regret paying for cheap workout gear. Although less fashionably challenged, we too are poor college students. Dick’s and Target are two of our favorite stores. Don’t enter the gym planning to capitalize on a poorly fitting sports bra or see-through T-shirt.

2. Remember that we feel ugly. Being sweaty and out of breath does not make us feel attractive. Some of us may keep gym clothes in our lockers that we unwrinkle and wear over and over again, without washing them. The last thing we want to concentrate on in the midst of a workout is how cute we look. Please, let us slip out unnoticed if we wish.

3. Stop with the sound effects. All we want to do is work out next to you, not have your children. We see that you’re benching a lot of weight and we’re not impressed. Letting out strange orgasm-like grunting noises is only going to make us more determined not to think about what you’d be like in bed.

4. If you see something, say something. It worked for the Metropolitan Transit Authority after the 9/11 terror attacks. If you’re going to have the nerve to cast sideways glances at us, at least have the balls to come up to us and ask us something meaningless, like how we think the Pens are doing. Otherwise, we’ll just think you’re sketchy.

5. Things jiggle. Get over it. No one really wants to see their brain on drugs, as the campaign goes, but we know it’s hard to resist watching a girl’s butt on an elliptical trainer. Sometimes we have fat. It moves independently of us. It’s beyond our control. Try walking in front of a mirror sometime.

6. If you wouldn’t do it to your sister, don’t do it to us. This is where the looking-up-the-shorts incident fits in. This is not seventh grade. We will not wear shorts under our dress. We will not cross our arms over our chests. We trust you not to exploit us.

7. What we don’t know won’t hurt us. So make sure we don’t know. If you’ve gotta sneak a peek, at least be discreet about it.

8. We might not even be looking at you. We’re probably looking at the clock above your head. Especially if you happen to be checking yourself out in the mirror at the same time.

9. We’re people, too. The next time you see a girl you could be interested in, try talking to her. Ask her what she’s reading. Offer her an extra disinfecting wipe. On a good day, she might even talk back.