The University of Waterloo has brought back racial segregation in swimming – with dedicated swim times for “​​Black folx.”

The Ontario university is also offering swim, workout, and rock climbing times exclusively for transgender, “non-binary,” and “2SLGBTQ+” people. 

“Come and enjoy the pool with other Black folx!” reads Waterloo’s website

“This dedicated time can be used for lengths or recreation in the six available lanes for fast, medium and recreational swimming.”

“This time is dedicated to building a better relationship with water for the Black community,” the university adds. 

The initiative comes as the University of Waterloo’s athletics department embraces DEI ideology.

As for the LGBTQ-only swim, the university says it aims to “provide a safer, comfortable, inclusive, and fun atmosphere for trans and non-binary and the 2SLGBTQ+ community.”

The university notes that heterosexual people may only come to the LGBTQ swim if they are participating with trans or “non-binary” persons. 

“If you are not trans or non-binary, or participating with someone who is, please respect this space and come at another time when space is open to all users.”

Trans people can also attend the university’s women’s only swim.

In a statement to True North, a university spokesperson defended the segregated swims as an inclusive “safe space” initiative. 

“In addition to the 21 hours of open recreational swimming that is offered to all members of our community each week, the university has added recreational swimming options for family swims, 2SLGBTQIA+ swims, women-only swims and swims dedicated to welcoming Black folx,” said the spokesperson.

Swimming pools in Canada and the United States have a dark history of racial segregation. For years, black people were banned from several pools and beaches in both countries.

“While the presence of ‘whites only’ signage in Canada was rare and inconsistent, black people were prevented from swimming on beaches through police presence and discriminatory practices,” reads an article on the matter published by the University of Toronto.

Segregationists invoked safety in their case for segregated pools – claiming that people of colour were unsanitary and that racialized men made white women feel uncomfortable. 

The Waterloo spokesperson said the black-only swim time will save lives.

“Offering a safe space for the community to learn to swim will help to reduce not only the stigma that ‘Black people can’t swim,’ but also, help to reduce the drowning rates among this population by inviting them into an activity that is not just fun, but can also be lifesaving,” the spokesperson said.

The University of Waterloo is also not the only Canadian university segregating recreation.  New DEI “black-only” spaces have also been appearing in other parts of university campuses as well as theatres

As previously by True North, racially segregated yoga session and “LGBT2QIA only” swims have taken place at the University of Guelph. The University of Windsor offers a weekly “LGBTQ+ Inclusive Swim” and bi-weekly “2SLGBTQIA+ only” workout times and Ottawa’s Carleton University offers a “Trans and Allies Fitness Space” three times per week. 

Campus Watch keeps an eye on what’s happening at schools across Canada. Do you have a story to share about a college or university near you? Let us know at [email protected].