Wednesday, March 03, 1999

Lawsuit over swimsuit ban doesn't hold water at Miami




BY BEN L. KAUFMAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Modesty enforcer Steve Cady said Tuesday that he has no plan to lift Miami University's ban on thong-style swimsuits.

        The policy was recommended by a recreation center advisory committee, approved by top Miami officials, and represents local sensitivities, Mr. Cady said.

        Mr. Cady is assistant vice president for recreational facilities and a defendant in a civil rights suit brought by associate professor G. Roger Davis.

        The music professor says Miami's thong ban stifles his First Amendment freedom of expression and 14th Amendment right to equal protection.

        “I've tried to be fair and reasonable,” Mr. Cady responded, saying Miami requires “appropriate swimwear” and there were complaints about Mr. Davis' bare buttocks.

        When Mr. Davis refused to switch to a more modest swimsuit, Mr. Cady said, he asked the advisory committee for a “clarification” on the dress code. The committee includes students, faculty and staff, and Oxford residents.

        Mr. Davis argued his case for more than an hour and lost, Mr. Cady said.

        The recommendation was an explicit ban on thong-styles for men and women.

        And Mr. Cady told Mr. Davis, “I need you to comply.”

        Mr. Davis threatened to drop his recreation center membership but reconsidered when Mr. Cady said a slightly more modest “Rio cut” would fulfill the propriety requirement.

        Mr. Davis resumed wearing his thong after a few months and resigned from the center when he was told it was unacceptable. “It's his choice,” Mr. Cady said.

        Monday, attorney Scott Greenwood filed Mr. Davis' complaint, ask ing U.S. District Judge Herman J. Weber to strike down the thong ban.

        Of all the accusations, Mr. Cady was most disturbed by a quote attributed to him, that the thong ban was meant to protect the “values and culture of middle-class Midwestern white” people.

        Mr. Cady called that a “total fabrication. ... It just didn't happen.”

        Mr. Cady said that Mr. Davis said the thong would be no issue on the East Coast or the West Coast.

        Race was never mentioned, Mr. Cady said, and he responded that “we live in the Midwest” — where definitions of propriety are more conservative than in distant cities named by Mr. Davis.

        Mr. Cady conceded one point: The dress code, as clarified by the advisory committee, is not posted or published, but it is at the information desk and every effort is made to communicate it to new lifeguards.

       



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