Anna Schaeffer
Mercury Staff

Incident that led to outcry resulted from miscommunication, university officials say

Students launched an online petition last week criticizing an alleged decision by University Recreation to enforce a “fingertip length” shorts dress code in UREC facilities. UREC officials have since responded, stating the incident that sparked the petition resulted from a miscommunication.

A Reddit post published on Jan. 6 claimed UREC had banned girls from wearing certain shorts in the gyms on campus, citing the enforcement of a “fingertip length” rule. Users then began to circulate the petition, entitled “Stop Enforcing the Finger-Tip Length Rule for Shorts at UTD’s UREC,” which has since garnered over 150 signatures.

UREC Director Tricia Losavio said the miscommunication stemmed from one student employee conflating UREC’s employee dress code — which requires employees, including student workers, to wear clean and appropriate shorts or pants — with the athletic wear standards for patrons using UREC facilities.

“Somebody asked what the dress code policy was, not knowing they were different for the patrons and for the staff,” Losavio said. “That’s when it went off the rails. People were being told to leave or told they couldn’t work out in this, this and this, and once it got full circle to us, we did our own investigation. (The dress code) is for student staff when they’re at work, not for people who work out.”

Chris McAlpine, UREC’s associate director of facility operations, said there was no policy change, contrary to what was discussed in the Reddit post, and said that UREC has no “fingertip length” policy.

“Anyone’s welcome to wear whatever length athletic shorts they like, assuming they are an appropriate piece of clothing,” McAlpine said. “For the most part, if somebody complains about something being offensive or they’re offended by it, we ask that party to please come back with a change of clothes that is more appropriate.

Losavio said she and McAlpine sent an email to all employees after the incident to clarify that UREC has no “fingertip” or “short-short” rule. The staff will meet in February to reiterate information to student and professional staff and resolve the miscommunication.

“If you’re unsure, ask,” Losavio said. “We just want everybody to have a comfortable, safe and clean environment.”