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Utah State ‘Women’s Climb Night’ is open to men, but they get lectured first

‘Even if they still decide to climb, they’re going to have this conversation’

Utah State University technically allows everyone to participate in its “Womens, Trans & Non-Binary Climb Night” every Tuesday evening at its Aggie Recreation Center.

But organizers make sure men feel unwelcome, according to an article in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Title IX prohibits educational institutions like the public university from discrimination on the basis of sex.

And since the women’s climb night started in 2021, Utah State has received “multiple anonymously filed Title IX reports,” according to the Tribune.

Jessica John, who leads the program, told the newspaper she cannot ban male climbers from participating, but she does “take the time to provide some education” to those who stay.

Just prior to the start time one evening, she told the men: “Hey. Tonight is our Women’s Climb Night. We’re attempting to carve out this space for women and nonbinary folk who don’t have as much space in the sport because it’s a very intimidating male-dominated sport. Tonight is our opportunity to create that community for them and get them a foot in,” according to the report.

The Tribune continues:

“Even if they still decide to climb,” she said, “they’re going to have this conversation, and they’re going to think about it.”

She comes armed with a brochure that features the mission statement and the “why” behind Women’s Climb Night. There’s another piece of paper with statistics about women and the outdoors. The bottom of the inside left panel features the line “Everyone is welcome,” but that’s not always how female climbers feel during the other 42½ hours the gym is open each week.

One of the things that Jill Woodhouse, a student who started the program, said makes women uncomfortable is when men correct women on their climbing techniques.

“It makes you not want to climb, not want to be in the gym, not be in that space,” Woodhouse told the newspaper. “It’s why Women’s Climb Night is so important. It’s why I started it. I see lots of encouragement; everyone starts cheering, high-fiving all-round, knowledge sharing, phone numbers being exchanged, and making friends. No judgment. It’s just what can be created through women-only spaces.”

Title IX allows women-only spaces and sports programs as long as there are equivalents for men. But there is no men’s only climb night at Utah State.

Cornell University faced similar complaints in 2021 for offering two exclusive rock climbing courses, one “for people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other people of color,” and another for “people who identify as women,” The College Fix reported.

The New York university later changed the descriptions to say the courses are open to everyone.

MORE: Biden Title IX changes threaten free speech, due process: legal experts

IMAGE: USU Campus Recreation/Facebook

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.