Forced To Be Physically Fit

   By drodriguez  Dec 01, 2009

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?

Make a Comment

Lusadi by Lusadi | Wasilla, AK
Dec 04, 2009

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.

idahospud by idahospud | haines, AK
Dec 04, 2009

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.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
Dec 04, 2009

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 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....

Matta0914 by Matta0914 | Seminole, FL
Dec 04, 2009

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.......

basilandcatnip by basilandcatnip | GARLAND, TX
Dec 03, 2009

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.

Trinket by Trinket | PRYOR, OK
Dec 03, 2009

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.

Bittles79 by Bittles79 | FARMINGDALE, NJ
Dec 03, 2009

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. Jemappel: You are obviously disillusioned about what qualifies as success...I find success in NOT being ignorant.

jemappel by jemappel | Rye Brook, NY
Dec 03, 2009

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.

msfriendly by msfriendly | MONROE, WI
Dec 03, 2009

Maybe the school should look at the food that is available for their students to eat. My daughter goes to college and has a hard time finding healthy choices (she weighs 100 lbs) and can't even find some decent fruit to eat!

momagarry by momagarry | MILWAUKEE, WI
Dec 02, 2009

It should be left up to that person to decide.

cybrown551 by cybrown551 | HOOKSETT, NH
Dec 02, 2009

I think that diet and exercise is very important in maintaining a healthy life style, however, I do not think that the school should tell people when they need to diet and exercise. The students did not register in a fitness program when they started school. If the school had a problem with people being a little plumped than they should not have accepted their money for registration.

Innergy by Innergy | MARIETTA, GA
Dec 02, 2009

So even if it cuts into their studying and what they are actually paying for (an education), they are REQUIRED to exercise? That's crap. Why not offer it for free and make MANDATORY that all foods high in saturated fat not be served on campus? Discriminating against overweight students...are you working for healthcare companies?

GuessWho by GuessWho | PHILADELPHIA, PA
Dec 01, 2009

I think that this is ridiculous! People are paying for an education. All overweight people should not be assumed to be unhealthy. This college has gone too far. What about the people who are underweight? This is dangerous as well. I don't believe that targeting "obese" students is a wise move for any college. My daughter will be attending college next fall and as a parent I will be looking out for colleges such as this.

nemiort by nemiort | Troy, MI
Dec 01, 2009

I agree that if universities require a fitness course, that it should be a requirement for ALL students because people who are not in the "obese" BMI range can also be out of shape (this is something that many people do not think about), and so that a specific group of people are not being discriminated against.

107Down by 107Down | LIBERTY LAKE, WA
Dec 01, 2009

I think if they require it for some, it should be required for all. The college I attended required 2 PE credits to graduate, regardless of major or personal size. Be consistent, but don't discriminate!