Photo: USHC

Students of hockey association USHC can now choose between skirt or shorts

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Men wear shorts, women wear skirts. That's what the regulations of student hockey association USHC used to state. Not anymore, thanks to the association's new inclusion panel. “Most of all, this is about awareness. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable and safe here.”

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“The club costume for all members is a white shirt with red collar and black trim, black shorts or skirt, and red socks.” That's the new dress code included in the association's by-laws, which means members are now free to decide whether they want to enter the field in shorts or in a skirt.

The adjustment is the first achievement of the inclusion panel set up by the association last year. According to initiator and chair Willem Vos, the proposal was strongly supported in the previous members' meeting. “This is part of the open and safe atmosphere we would like to create within this association. We should not tell members what to wear.”

Free choice
The Art History student was surprised by the overwhelming media attention received by USHC after the association sent out a press release about the adjustment. After all, the Utrecht-based student association is not the first one to take such a step. In addition, the regulations of the national hockey association do not forbid members to make their own choice between a pair of shorts and a skirt.

Vos guesses that the media attention is due to the discussions, earlier this year, surrounding the German gymnasts and the Norwegian beach volleyball players, who refused to comply with the mandatory dress code. “Those issues are still in the back of many people's minds.”

But don't get him wrong: Vos is happy with the attention. “It's good that this subject is being discussed in a positive manner. Hopefully, other hockey associations, that still obligate their members to wear certain clothes, will wake up. I heard that that's actually happening as a result of our story.”

Against sexual intimidation
Willem Vos has been committed to the LHBTIQ+ community for quite a while. At UU, he is a member of the committee Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. Since last year, he is also the chair of the hockey association's inclusion panel, which is set to focus on a campaign against sexual intimidation in the next few months.

According to Vos, the goal is to raise awareness of the issue among the members of the association. “This a pleasant association and everyone has goodwill. But, in my own team, people used to swear with 'homo' or 'flikker' (Dutch terms for 'faggot', ed.). When you approach people and say: 'hey, you’re talking about me', they understand why they should not use those terms. They do it unconsciously.”

The USHC member is surprised that most of the newspaper articles about their adjustment to the dress code focused on the women who are now able to wear shorts. “The fact that men can now choose to wear a skirt is less emphasised. I don’t understand it. I plan on wearing a skirt to find out if it's comfortable for me.”

Hebbes as well
Vos does not know other Utrecht-based sport associations for students regulate their dress code. Inquiry at korfball association Hebbes shows that every member is free to choose for shorts or skirt, “regardless of how members identify themselves”.

According to chair Maria Groenenberg, that goes along with the inclusivity that Hebbes promotes. Her association, therefore, applauds USHC’s action. “The fact that USHC decides to change this concerning, outdated rule can count on our approval”, she told DUB via e-mail.

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