UPDATE: The trustee board have met since this article was originally published, but decided to stand by their original decision.
A UNANIMOUS vote from Swansea University Students’ Union’s trustee board has banned Swansea Student’s Pole Fitness Society, causing international outrage from the pole fitness community.
A letter issued by the board as to why Swansea student pole fitness was rejected and a reply from Sam Remmer, on behalf of the pole dance community, have been circulating the internet and gone viral.
The Students’ Union’s Trustee Board stated in their letter that pole fitness was “inextricably linked to the multi million pound sex industry” and “upholds and bolsters sexist attitudes and behaviours”.
All over the world, people have been showing their support for Swansea student pole fitness.
A Swansea graduate and former captain of a Swansea sports team, Isabel Crouch, was compelled to write to the union to support the Pole Fitness Society.
As a former pole fitness student herself, she felt that the union shouldn’t be so “close-minded on this issue”.
Initially, Pole Fitness Society was permitted to become an official society of the union, but this decision was later revoked.
The committee also argues that “We’ve never been able to put our point forward” as they were “not allowed” to go to Trustee meetings or their appeal.
The society appealed this revocation but it was later rejected.
Treasurer of the society, Heidi Muir, said the committee found the decision change by the board “really hard… we worked really hard over the summer” to establish a committee; obtain funding, order uniforms and making flyers and posters for Freshers’ Fair.
The letter from the board of trustees stated that Swansea Student Pole Fitness Society “did not meet the criteria needed to be accepted” as an official union society.
Ms Muir believes the board is “not very clear” on their criteria, arguing that there are union societies that “encourage binge drinking, have done naked calendars… [yet] a fitness class which encourages a healthy lifestyle, body confidence and self-esteem doesn’t fit into these policies”.
Pole fitness fans from America have also been showing support: Runemist34 was “fairly displeased to hear that a university… would have such an uninformed and sexist view of Pole Fitness”.
Moreover, a keen supporter of Pole Fitness Society, Cloud Ariel Arts, published a blog post highlighting that whilst the union may “claim that Pole Fitness is too sexually explicit…” points out that the Dance Society page features a picture of members holding up placards: one girl’s sign states she is guilty of “slut dropping on the dance floor”.
“Yet you ban pole dancing for being degrading to women…?”
Within the letter from the board of trustees, Pole Fitness Society’s appeal was rejected on several counts.
The board stated that “pole fitness and pole dancing are a direct spin off from lap dancing” and that “We should not be deaf to the very real issue of pole fitness playing a part in upholding this Raunch Culture and objectification of women and girls and the impact of this on our female students.”
President of the Committee, Beth Morris, found drawing comparisons between lap dancing and pole fitness “highly, highly offensive”, adding, “Lap dancing occurs in gentleman’s clubs… Pole fitness is strictly for fitness.” She continued, the board “need[s] to take account of the context in which these classes are being taught in”.
Since the classes are “purely for fitness… there is therefore… no link between [it] and the sex industry”.
The class instructor, Dawn Roberts, echoes this, stating pole fitness “is and always has been an exercise class taught by a fitness professional.
“I would like to re-extend my offer to the board of trustees to attend a class so that they can see for themselves the sort of activity that takes place in one of these fitness classes.”
SU-TV.co.uk filmed an exclusive interview with Ms Morris on the issue:
The board also stated that “Evidence shows that young women aged 16 – 24 are the group of women who experience the most domestic and sexual violence.
“This is the age of a large group of our female students. We believe that activities such as ‘pole fitness’ contributes to an atmosphere where women are viewed as sexual objects and where violence against them is acceptable.”
President of the pole fitness committee, Beth Morris, argued that it is “ridiculous” to suggest that pole fitness would contribute to an atmosphere where violence against women was acceptable.
“Regardless of how anyone acts, no one should ever feel that they’ve put themselves in the way of violence at all, that’s just ridiculous.”
Treasurer Ms Muir argued that surely the Union should “work on changing the perception [of pole fitness], rather than not allowing us to do it”.
The board also stated that: “Although ‘pole fitness’ is sold as an empowering activity, we believe that women have been deceived into thinking this is a way of taking charge of their sexuality and their own decisions. Moreover, we believe that it is just a further debasement of our culture and another sign of a creeping backlash against women’s true empowerment and a show of misogyny.”
The whole committee was “offended” by the notion that they had been “deceived” into enjoying pole fitness.
The president stated they had “all sought out… [pole fitness] because that’s what we wanted to do… none of the girls that are in our classes now have been deceived into coming to class… they’ve made up their own minds”.
A spokesperson for the students’ union said: “Representatives from the Pole Fitness Society were contacted and the reasons behind the decision were explained in full to them.’”
Join the debate >> See what the Women’s Officer, Rose Inman, who voted to ban the society and the president of the pole fitness society have to say when they went head to head in our Waterfront Debate.
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