|Weight factors into graduation policies|
|Written by Daneisha Goodman, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 12 January 2011 23:55|
Over two dozen students at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania may be denied their graduation this spring due to being categorized as too heavy by some school officials.
Instead of preparing for the ceremony like most students across the nation, Lincoln University students will be focused on completing an assigned fitness course.
Students with a body mass index of 30 or above at Lincoln University must now take a fitness course that meets three hours per week.
Faculty at the university implemented the policy back in 2005 as a way to decrease the obesity statistics in America.
In Illinois, although no fitness courses are mandatory for students, university medical officials and health experts continually remind students of avoiding obesity by staying healthy.
“As most people know, avoiding obesity and maintaining general fitness are important for overall physical health. Being physically unhealthy can adversely affect mental health and ability to perform at work and school,” Dr. Jean Swearingen, medical director of Student Health Services, said.
Swearingen said it is important to encourage and offer resources to students to pursue physical fitness. Being overweight increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and other life-threatening factors.
With the traditional diploma procedure being based solely on grades, physical fitness is beginning to have some impact on whether or not students will graduate.
The one semester class which mixes exercise, nutritional instruction and discussion of the risks of obesity covers some health aspects students may be unaware of.
“There are many problems with this policy,” Nikki Brauer, interim director of Health Promotion and Wellness, said. While it is beneficial to increase the health of students, there are doubts on whether the policy is fair.
“While countering obesity is important, one can be of normal weight and be unfit and unhealthy, so I would think that it would make more sense to have a universal fitness class policy, rather than applying the requirement to only a segment of the school population, if this is the direction the school cares to pursue,” Swearingen said.
Like many colleges and universities, historical black colleges and universities have had physical education courses as part of core institutional requirements.
Students are now being viewed as adults in college, which ended the fitness requirement for some, allowing students their own choice about their personal well being.
As a result of the controversy from both students and faculty, the BMI course for Lincoln University was changed from a graduation requirement to an optional class. The school decided that instead of the course, there is going be a “Fitness 101” orientation given during students’ freshman year.