Lincoln University, a historically black college located west of Philadelphia, requires that overweight students take a fitness course if they want to graduate, and that’s not sitting well with a number of students.
The rule was enacted 4 years ago. It requires that students get their body mass index checked, and those found to be obese—a BMI of 30 or higher—must take a class called “Fitness for Life,” which meets three hours per week.
The course involves physical activities including walking and weight training as well as information on nutrition and stress management.
James DeBoy, chairman of the Lincoln’s department of health said the school had become concerned about high rates of obesity and diabetes in the African-American community.
“We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic,” he told MSNBC. “We have an obligation to address this head on.”
Protests bean last week when seniors—who are the first class affected by the new rule—began realizing they were running out of chances to meet the requirement.
Senior Tiana Lawson wrote in the student newspaper that she “didn’t come to Lincoln to be told that my weight is not in an acceptable range. I came here to get an education.” Lawson added that she has no problem with the general concept so long everyone must take the class.
As of this fall, about 80 seniors — 16% of the class — had neither had their BMI tested nor taken the class. At least some of them are expected to be cleared because they are not obese, officials said.
UPDATE: After this post was written and scheduled for publication on Pizaazz, faculty at Lincoln decided to nix the idea of a required “fat course.” So obese students at Lincoln can now graduate without taking the class.
In lieu of the requirement, the school will “suggest” to certain students that they enroll in a “Fitness for Life” class.