A rather controversial edict has been made for this years graduating class (and all those following) at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania: drop the weight or we won't allow you to graduate. Those who have a BMI of 30 or over have to take a mandatory course in fitness in order to graduate. If the course isn't taken - the student cannot receive his or her diploma.
There's good and bad to this but more bad than good. And here is why:
A class in fitness. Let's think about that - a mandatory class in how to maintain a healthy body through diet and exercise. How can that be bad? Shouldn't that be as important as reading Jane Austen and doing calculus? Shouldn't part of a well-rounded college degree include human health? Of course!
How come only the fat kids have to participate? Are the thin kids given an automatic pass? The answer is yes. My answer is...why?
Why do we insist in equating "thin" with healthy? Thin kids could be snorting cocaine, binge drinking, starving themselves and chain-smoking but somehow they get a pass on health class because they skate in under the magic number of 30. This makes absolutely no sense at all.
A college graduate with a BMI of 30 probably needs to lose weight, unless he or she is a body-builder or an athlete of some sort where their bodies are heavy with muscle mass (it does appear that this issue is an exception to the rule so a fit body builder with a high BMI will not be deemed too fat to graduate).
But the fast food eating chain- smoker gets to slide by because of that number. What this teaches college kids is that what's on the outside counts. You can be a bit over-weight with no unhealthy habits besides not being able to lose the Freshman 15 and be refused a degree but you can be a chain- smoking alcoholic and allowed to proudly put your cap and gown on. Of course, I don't assume all over-weight people to be non-smoking tee-totalers or having no other bad habits. But "healthy" means how you look to your college administration, apparently, and not your actual physical development and growth.
I'm all for a healthy BMI. I'm all for mandatory health classes in order to graduate. It makes as much (or more) sense as the mandatory arts and science requirements. But solely using a BMI as a measure of physical health is like telling a psychologist you feel fine when asked, and thus being given a clean bill of mental health.
All aspects of "health" need to be studied - not one sole, outward sign. Not only will this teach future generations that health is more than just a number, it will teach them that the notion of physical fitness cannot be gauged by a cursory glance at someone's body type or BMI, and that our behaviors and actions are also a leading indication of our overall health and well-being.
What do you think of Lincoln University's rules for graduation? Do you think it needs to be modified to include all students or should it be for those with a BMI over 30? Do you find yourself equating "thin" with "healthy"?
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This is completely absurd.January 2, 2010 - 3:01am
What about students who are too thin?? Or those who smoke, drink or are drug addicts?
It's discriminatory! Can't they imagine how much they are hurting those student.
Does people's BMI make them smart or dumb??
USA is such a evolved country compared to Portugal (my country), but at least we do not descriminate people that way.
What a great post. Thank you for bringing this to light.
I have no problem with all students being required to take a nutrition and fitness class sometime during their college years. But to weigh and measure students and then send them one of two ways based on their BMI is completely offensive to me.
When did the university appoint themselves the parents and the doctor for these students? Who are they to say that a hard-working, studious, smart kid who makes A's and B's in class doesn't get to graduate because they are overweight? Or that they must use some of their credit hours on this class when others don't have to?
This is horrendous, discriminatory and will cause hurt feelings needlessly. It should be required of all students or not at all.December 2, 2009 - 9:32am
Wow, that is absurd. What does a fit class have to do with the student's accomplishments and hard work? I agree with Pat, it is very discriminating.December 1, 2009 - 6:21am
Many students gain weight in college because they live in dorms and have no place to cook so they settle for the junk food; not to mention the freshman 15.
So, some of these people may be trying to get back into shape anyway, but telling them to lose it or they can't graduate is just not fair.
Hi Susan - What do I think of these rules? They don't make sense and are discriminatory. In an ideal world everyone would have the resources to exercise regularly, eat healthy foods and obtain appropriate medical care. Reality is different. The US has been a recession for more than two years and the numbers of people who've lost the ability to purchase healthy foods, maintain medical coverage and do other things that many tend to take for granted is staggering. Why now, of all times, would a university decide to implement standards like this? A bunch of tenured skinny people must have come up with this! Thanks for a great post. PatNovember 30, 2009 - 6:43pm