In an effort to combat obesity, students’ body mass indexes are being monitored as part of a graduation requirement at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Approximately 20 students are required to take a one-credit gym class in order to graduate because their BMIs are over 30.
“What’s the point of this?” freshman Dionard Henderson said to The Lincolnian. “What does my BMI have to do with my academic outcome? Some students on campus are just confused why a certain BMI has to be a requirement. Are there not a sufficient amount of prerequisites to complete prior to graduating from college?”
The current graduating class is the first to experience the new requirement, which was initiated in 2006. Twenty-four seniors still have to take the class in order to graduate.
“I don’t necessarily agree with the BMI being a requirement,” Yvonne Hilton, a professor in the health, physical education and recreation department, said to The Lincolnian. “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.”
The new policy is generating mixed reviews among faculty in the health, physical education and recreation department responsible for it.
“We know that obesity and its co-morbidities are going to rob individuals of quality and quantity of life,” James DeBoy, chair of the department of health, physical education and recreation, said in an interview with National Public Radio. “What good is it to go through college, get your bachelor’s degree at Lincoln University, go get your graduate degree, work for five, six, seven years, and all of a sudden, you experience a catastrophic health issue associated with the obesity. That would be a tragedy … It’s our professional educators’s responsibility to alert students to this.”
If the students fail to meet the requirement they will have to take the fitness class offered in the spring 2010 semester.
“We will get those seniors in those HPR 103 classes by hook or by crook, and the opportunity is there for them to take it, and if they complete that course, it’s not a problem,” DeBoy said.
Regardless of the university’s intentions, students are upset about the requirement.
“It’s not up to Lincoln to tell me how much my BMI should be,” sophomore Louise Kaddie said to the Lincolnian. “I came here to get a degree and that’s what the administration should be concerned with.”