Tuesday, December 1, 2009
What Would You do to Graduate?
A recent article in the NY Times highlighted an interesting tactic in college graduation. Lincoln University, a predominantly African-American college a bit outside Philadelphia, has declared that students with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 need to take a gym class to graduate. BMI is a ratio of your weight to your height and is a crude (although somewhat effective) way to determine if people are overweight. Granted, if you are Peyton Manning (quarterback of the still undefeated Indianapolis Colts), your BMI is pretty skewed because he's 6'5" and a ton of muscle. But for the rest of us, it's a pretty good indicator of size. And I realize that obesity is an American epidemic that especially hits lower income families and minorities the most. I applaud Lincoln University for recognizing the epidemic, and for trying to do something about it, but I think the approach is wrong. I think the majority of us could use an extra gym credit, a health class, a cooking or nutrition class. When I was in college (back in my day...), I took some dance classes that I loved. It was a great way to burn off steam, and there was no homework! Just show up. I understand that perhaps these classes are not for everyone. Someone commuting to school, or paying on a per credit basis, would probably not appreciate the little one-unit class that made them drive all the way to campus for no reason. But, for students attending college and living on campus, as the majority of students at Lincoln are doing, an extra class dedicated to nutrition, how to use the gym or a plethora of sports, could be a great addition to the curriculum. For ALL students. Not just those considered technically obese. I think it's pretty prevalent that a lot of us get out of college and don't know how to take care of ourselves. I had late nights filled with pots of coffee, dinner consisted of Spaghetti Os or Ramen noodles, or those Pasta-Roni boxes, and I drank copious amounts of alcohol. It would have been nice to have a nutrition or health class, or, heck, even Home Ec in high school (please, without the sexist agenda!). I guess what I'm saying is that the sentiment is right at Lincoln, the execution is just off. Let's make eating healthy and taking care of yourself part of our education, but let's not single out one group of people to force that education on. I think we'll all be better off if we do.