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Forced To Be Physically Fit

Forced To Be Physically Fit

College is a place we send our kids to get a higher education in hopes they will come out with a diploma and prospects of a rewarding professional career.  One college in Pennsylvania has changed the rules a little and added some requirements that many students are surprised to hear about.  Students who attend Lincoln University are now being required to attend a 3 hour per week fitness course if their body mass index registers in the obese range (about 30BMI).  Students who are obese and refuse to take this course will not be allowed to graduate.


Lincoln University's requirements are being met with criticism from members of the student body as well as people who do not attend the school.  CNN reports about one student ,Tiana Lawson, who recently went public with her gripes against the school when she wrote an editorial about it in the school's newspaper.  Lawson, who is required to take the course after finding out her BMI was in the obese range, explains that her problem with the new rule is that it does not require all students to attend the course and works to single out the overweight population. 

Lawson writes in the school paper, "I didn't come to Lincoln to be told my weight is not in an acceptable range.  I came here to get an education which, as a three-time honor student, is something I have been doing quite well, despite the fact that I have a slightly high Body Mass Index."

Chairman of the school's Department of Health and Physical Education, James DeBoy, defends the school's fitness course requirement.  He says, "We, as educators, must tell students when we believe, in our heart of hearts, when certain factors, certain behaviors, attitudes, whatever, are going to hinder that student from achieving and maximizing their life goals."

What do you think of the requirements placed on obese students at Lincoln University?

Do you think more universities should start programs like this or should the issue of obesity be separate from a college education?

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  • jemappel By jemappel
    12.03.09  

    I think physical fitness for overweight students should be required. AND smoking cessation classes for smokers! We ALL pay for the cost of unhealthy behaviors, not just those who do the unhealthy activities. Being physically healthy is a requirement to be a successful adult - and being at a healthy weight IS necessary for true success - and being a successful adult is what our colleges should be teaching.

  • Bittles79 By Bittles79
    12.03.09  

    I agree that all students should be required to take a fitness class, I know plenty of out shape people who do not fall in the obese range. Further, as a disabled person, I find this as a serious discrimination to people who have medical causes for their obesity. Someone should contact the ACLU and a civil rights attorney....this is a clear case of discrimination. P.S. Furthermore...to Jemappel: You are obviously disillusioned about what qualifies as success...I find success in NOT being ignorant.

  • Trinket By Trinket
    12.03.09  

    While I agree that health is important, especially in college where it is incredibly difficult to stay healthy for several reasons, this requirement is ridiculous. It is wrong to single out students, and it is wrong not to allow a student to graduate because of this - particularly if this is a new rule. If they are so concerned with their students' health (which is wonderful) they should make requirements for all students, and grandfather in the ones who are already pursuing a degree. Also, I completely agree with msfriendly; I am a student right now, and healthy choices are hard to find - and when available are not usually in the price range of a student. Healthy, readily available food choices, and fitness classes for all levels should also be a concern.

  • basilandcatnip By basilandcatnip
    12.03.09  

    I'd look first at the food served in the dorm package. Physical Education was a requirement under electives in my degree program. Shouldn't that cover that. If not, I think it's a private matter to be discussed with student health services since many over weight people do get lab results back that are normal. And just because a person is considered normal weight, does not mean they are physically healthy.

  • Matta0914 By Matta0914
    12.04.09  

    I think this is a very rude thing to do to people that are over weight. They are paying for an education. If you would be charging them to do this as a class I think thats also wrong. If they want to lose weight then they can do it on their on time. This could also be very embarrasing to the over weight students and can make them feel singled out, like high school students. Everybodys body is different then each others. What if the student was tall and had a 30MBI. Would they be considered obese? No.......

  • MadHatter By MadHatter
    12.04.09  

    I do see where the school is getting at with this, they want the future of the students to be more brighter and healthier. However, i think its unfair to throw this down on them NOW. I am pretty sure if the students knew about this requirement before they enrolled, they would have picked a different college. They should have informed the students right on the spot before they decided to join the school that this would be happening. to withhold someone's hard earned degree isn't right. I wont be surprised if the school gets sued for this. I am mixed on the subject though...so i am going to tread on neutral grounds. Matta0914 - BMI also factors in Height. what my main concern is, what about the body builders out there or even athletes?? Muscles are heavy in weight, this could throw the BMI off....

  • idahospud By idahospud
    12.04.09  

    First of all,they cannot throw this requirement in at the last minute,but I do agree it is a good idea.Our country is obese rich!!! Too many illnesses come from being too obese & not enough exercise.

  • Lusadi By Lusadi
    12.04.09  

    If this is a private university, they can do anything they would like. If the students do not care for it they can leave and attend another university. That being said... there are sometimes underlying factors contributing to a high weight/BMI other than diet & exercise. The university should be careful about opening itself up to liability by requiring overweight students to take part in the program. I consider that to be a personal matter that is between the adult and his/her doctor. Now, if they want to require all students to take a course in general health, fitness, and nutrition that would be fair.

  • giesela99 By giesela99
    12.05.09  

    Many corporations are following similar paths with fining employees with unhealthy lifestyles or rewarding healthy employees. This policy has been in effect at Lincoln University since 2006. Students have their waist circumference measured to rule out those with high muscle mass. Students were aware of the requirements enrolled in the university. Students committed to a healthy lifestyle when enrolling in the school. This is only making news now because a student procrastinated getting fitness tested and is now up in arms about having to take an additional class.

  • ksumm77 By ksumm77
    12.07.09  

    This should be a requirement for all and not some. A lot of people do not choose to be obese! It has to do with genetics and for some no matter how hard they work it is so frustrating and hard for them to lose the weight.

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