With many of us considering new resolutions on working out after the Thanksgiving feasts, one school is pushing the issue of fitness to a new level. Lincoln University is a historically black university in Pennsylvania that has now required a fitness course and confirmation of every student’s Body Mass Index as a condition for a degree — raising the ire of students. At Lincoln, it is your BMI first, then your BA.
The school is dealing with high rates of obesity and diabetes, prompting the mandatory measure. Students have objected that they come to the school for an education and not a workout.
It presents a novel question for educators. Teaching healthy lifestyle is viewed by many as a bit over controlling and the type of measure often criticized in the “nanny state.” Can the school require good dental care and grooming?
The school is requiring a course entitled “Fitness for Life” that demands three hours a week, involving walking, aerobics, weight training and other physical activities. It also teaches students about nutrition, stress and sleep. It also requires students submit to tests to determine their body mass index.
It would seem a better course to offer free BMI testing and free fitness workouts — as opposed to making the course a requirement for graduation. Universities have an educational mission that should not stray into lifestyles choices. The concern of the school is commendable but this course presents a bit of a slippery slope problem of where such mandatory self-improvement courses would end. There is also privacy concerns over forcing students to submit to such tests as a condition of receiving an education. It is a good thing that Samuel Johnson did not try to register at Lincoln University.
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