Too fat to graduate? For two dozen students at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, the answer is yes, until they take a mandatory class called ‘Fitness for Life.’ The policy of requiring students who have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 to take the class and barring them from receiving their degree until they complete it has sparked debate and controversy.
A BMI above 30 is generally considered to indicate obesity and the class is a requirement only for students with such a measurement. It addresses the intertwined issues of nutrition, physical fitness and seeks to inform students of the health risks that obesity poses and is intended to help them to attain and maintain a healthy weight.
Lincoln University, located near Philadelphia, established in 1854 is the nation’s first of several historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and all of the students who face the possibility of not graduating are black, as they did not take the required class which was first added to the curriculum in 2006.
As the university’s newspaper points out, there is some debate among faculty over the requirement. Although he appears in the video segment below, Dr. James L. DeBoy, who is Chair and Professor of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, was not interviewed for the article. However, another faculty member in the department, Dr. Yvonne Hilton, had this to say about the requirement:
. “It is understood that obesity in America is growing fast, but maybe there should have been a different approach in informing the students about their health and building their awareness.”
However, as it stands, the policy is in place and the students must either take the course or have a BMI lower than 30 when they graduate next May. It has also drawn question and debate as to why only those considered obese are required to take “Fitness for Life” as the issues of nutrition and physical fitness covered in the class would benefit anyone regardless of their BMI.
Readers, please share your opinions. What do you think about the Lincoln University policy which, in essence, makes certain students too fat to graduate?