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Being respectful in the sauna

In late October, someone in the lady’s locker room sauna was confronted with an unexpected site — at eye level, the bent-over backside of another woman.

“You aren’t very modest are you?” she asked the woman.

“I grew up in California in the 60s,” the other woman said.

Then, she commenced to rub lotion and oils over her body while remaining bent over.

The woman who experienced the eyeful emailed the information to The Northern Light, Alan Piccard, assistant director of recreation sports programs, and Kevin Silver, director of recreational sports, Oct. 26.

Her email stated, “Other Athletic Clubs in Anchorage have signs posted outside the saunas to curb inappropriateness.  Why can’t (the) UAA Recreational Sports Complex do the same?”

The sauna rules currently posted on the door ask visitors to not pour liquid on the rocks in the sauna, request a Wolfcard or ticket for use, restrict use to people ages 12 and older, prohibit leaving newspapers or books in the sauna, require users to sit on a towel or wear a bathing suit when on benches, suggest no more than 20 minutes in the sauna and urge people to press the emergency yellow button for immediate assistance if needed.

There are no other behavioral rules posted.

Piccard said he responded to the woman via email with advice about what to do if harassed in the sauna.

He said there is a yellow emergency button that can be used to alert the person working at the issue cage, an equipment and ticket sales booth, or inform the person working at the issue cage about the problem in person.

He said the employee respondent could then mediate the situation.

In this particular instance, he said there was little his team could do to address the problem because the informant waited until days after the incident to notify others of her concern.

Piccard’s email also states that it is not part of UAA policy to discourage the use of products such as oils or lotions in the sauna.

Silver also recommended that people communicate their needs with the staff available while using facilities in the Wells Fargo Sports Complex Center.

“You have to let us know if you have an issue,” Silver said.

In this case, Silver said a mediator could have checked that both people were authorized to use the fitness center or interviewed both people to find the appropriate solution. But that can’t be done if the staff is not informed about the incident immediately.

The woman who sent the email said she wants to remain anonymous and did not provide her name.

For more information about the sauna visit www.uaa.alaska.edu/recreation/facility-use/policies.cfm

Written by J. Almendarez

J. Almendarez is a journalism junior who transferred to UAA this fall from San Antonio College, located in South Texas. At SAC, she worked at the national award winning student publication, The Ranger, as a reporter, photographer, Multimedia Editor and Executive Editor. After graduation next fall, she plans to work as a reporter for a daily in South Texas. Eventually, she would like to earn a Master's degree in Media Convergence. After a long career in journalism, she will go back to San Antonio College, teach a reporting class and die while preaching in front of a group of students about the importance of legit journalism and AP Style.