New dress code comes to Rec Center in 2015

New dress code comes to Rec Center in 2015

By Austin Miller

Michelangelo’s Statue of David has served as a symbol of the human body’s peak since 1504. Unlike David, who stands naked, the muscled members of the SIU community will have to cover their bodies, or at least their biceps, if they visit the Recreation Center.

A new dress code for specific areas starting in January, the officials contend will protect against the spread of MRSA, an infection transmitted by way of skin contact.

Troy Vaughn, director of the Recreation Center, acknowledges that there has not been a case of MRSA tied to the Recreation Center and Vaughn wants to make sure it stays that way.


Only patrons who use the personal fitness and wellness studio, upper track, and east and west weight rooms will be required to wear shirts with sleeves. The rule will not include the basketball courts and pool.

This new policy is designed to limit the possibilities of a member’s skin touching any of the equipment.

He said men like to wear shirts with the sleeves or sides cutoff and women wear shirts with their shoulders exposed.

“The more contact that people’s skin comes to the equipment, there’s more of a chance for infection,” Vaughn said. “It’s imperative, on our end, that we do the very best that we can to protect our users.”

Vaughn said nearly 80 percent of members already abide by the new policy.

Jesse Hood, a senior from DeLand studying advertising, said he agrees with the new policy because he sees people not cleaning up after themselves everyday.

“Sleeves can still get sweaty, but it’s less likely to get on the equipment,” Hood said. “Not enough people wipe down.”


Earlier this year, spray bottles and small towels were attached to most of the exercise machines in the center. Vaughn said the spray is hdqC2 and kills most bacteria on contact. The small towels used to wipe the solution are changed four to five times a day by janitors.

One of the main infections the code wants to prevent is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA.

Jodi Robertson, director of nurses at the Student Health Center, said MRSA is highly contagious and resistant to most antibiotics.

MRSA can lead to bloodstream infections and pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The infection creates open sores that some think look like spider bites, making it easier to spread.

Robertson said MRSA has become community acquired, meaning poor hygiene won’t directly cause infection. It is mainly attained from personal contact.

She said there are occasional visits to the health center regarding possible MRSA infections, but it is not uncommon with the amount of people living together.

The weight rooms and studios are the areas covered by the dress code because they have most frequent skin-to-machine contact. The west weight room is mainly free weights, which patrons have to carry plates and set themselves.

Vaughn said the users of that room are 80 percent men, who lift heavier weights. But even experienced weightlifters can forget to wipe or clean off equipment.

“We have to clean a lot more vigorously in there than anywhere else, just because of those conditions,” he said.

Vaughn said the new rules are also designed to reduce intimidation among people who may not want to weight train around the bigger, more experienced lifters.

Mike Murphy, an SIU alumnus, said he understands the health concerns, but did not believe there is any intimidation in the west weight room.

“The people that come in here to lift, will lift, regardless of what someone is wearing,” Murphy said.

The east room has pin-selected weights, typically used by less serious lifters.

Terilyn Mahome, who had just finished working out in the east room, said the new rule is an inconvenience for members.

“I’ve been coming here for two years and now I have to go out and buy new clothes,” Mahome said.

Mahome, a senior from Chicago studying exercise science, said the Recreation Center is becoming a more restrictive place, like Planet Fitness, a gym that restricts the attire of its patrons more than the Recreation Center.

The policy will take effect on Jan. 5, before most students return from winter break. Vaughn said he has ordered about 400 shirts to give to people who are not in proper attire, but when those run out, violators will have to change or leave.

Staff will be present to enforce the rule, and Vaughn said they will do so in a personal and professional way.

“We’re not asking for much. All I’m asking for is that we just get a tee shirt on. It’s just a tee shirt, plain and simple,” he said.

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AMiller_DE