Payne Whitney Gymnasium

Before coeducation, men at the Yale gym (financed in 1932 by the wife and children of Payne Whitney) wandered the halls and swam laps stark naked. After coeducation, practice space and showers for women athletes were scarce. One particularly egregious situation remained unchanged until 1976, when the women’s crew team marched into the office of the Director of Women’s Activities, located in the Ray Tompkins House, (a gift from Sarah Wey Tompkins). The women pulled off their clothes to display Title IX painted on their chests and backs. They read a statement which demanded equal treatment for their bodies at the Yale boathouse: a locker room and hot showers.

The team was tired of waiting wet and freezing on the bus while the men showered before the 30 minute drive back to campus. Within a year after the Title IX Strip, the boathouse was renovated to accommodate the women’s team. Twenty-five years later, Virginia Gilder (BA 1979) spearheaded the funding drive for the new Gilder Boathouse.