Lincoln University in Pennsylvania has dropped a required fitness class for students deemed obese.
That idea was wrong in so many ways. Where to begin?
First of all, the required class, ‘Fitness for Life’ would be known as the fat class. It makes fitness seem like some kind of remedial training. Who want’s to be ‘special’ in that way? Kiss of death.
Secondly, you can be fat and healthy, or thin and sick. It happens. Why use weight as the only criteria? Is health just a matter of being thin? That’s easy– take up smoking. Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet. Problem solved.
Obesity is a health problem. It’s not the only one we face, but it’s highly visible. It’s easy to stigmatize fat people because it’s harder to spot other conditions. But you can be thin and in terrible shape.
For health promotion, I have a modest proposal for colleges. First, look at your cafeteria. Are you offering cheap, greasy food and wilted salad, or real food? How much of a priority is it? Second, look at your campus. Is it walkable? Can you make it a livable space where students will walk rather than jump in a car? Do they feel safe on campus?
Third, you need a fitness center that all the students will want to use, so it has to be cool. A Siberia for fat kids won’t do it. Even the kids who want to exercise won’t be caught dead walking in there.
And any student who has done the work and paid the tuition deserves to graduate. If you’re going to hold their graduation hostage– save them the trouble. Just make it a policy not to admit any students over the ideal weight.
Here’s a link to an earlier post, From a Fat Old Nurse, that includes the story of a nurse who was denied graduation by Salve Regina. Sisters of Mercy, where was your’s?