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OBESE Lincoln University Student Mandates ...

I tweeted yesterday, "they're (schools, employers, insurers, government) going to make it as uncomfortable to live + work fat, as possible" ...

Bloggers + news circles have been abuzz with advocacy and distaste, over the graduation mandates of Lincoln University students (a historically black institution). A course requirement entitled, "Fitness for Life" implemented in 2006, for individuals with an "obese" body mass index rating.

"No student should ever be able to leave Lincoln and not know the risks of obesity. I see it as my professional responsibility to be honest and tell students they’re not healthy," said James L. DeBoy, Chair of Lincoln’s Health, Physical Education Department.

Graduation for the first round of students this mandate blankets, is quickly approaching. With only 1 more opportunity to take the class, there is an estimated 25 who have not fulfilled the credit or lost enough weight. Given, their BMI remains 30 or above ... they may not get their degree.

Opposing with her co-worker's statements, Dr. Yvonne Hilton; a professor in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department at Lincoln chimes, "I don't necessarily agree with the BMI being a requirement. 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."

Personal Thoughts ...

1. I am anticipating this news will be a likely deterrent for prospective heavier students. Not directly, but should you be a HS senior, who happens to be overweight ... Lincoln University will plausibly NOT be on your list of potentials. I'm curious to know if this is the underling intention of the school?

2. The stigma that comes with being big as it is, added, everyone's consciousness that school officials are watching your weight too - could be emotionally detrimental. Especially, in a socially-crazed environment, like a college campus. An arena where some are being introduced to adulthood and are the most fragile amidst "finding themselves".

3. If any demographic knows of disparities and discrimination in America, it's blacks. Once turned away from education for our appearance ... it seems to be subtly happening again - although, imposed from within. My mom disagreed with me and told me it's better that we are realistic, expect more and are harder on ourselves. She's from the old school, but I get what she's saying. You know the, we have to study longer, run harder, jump higher ... to be accepted. The unspoken "black rule".

4. I see this as a trend, that's only going to grow at all opportunities. I work for a fortune 500 company, who is falling in line with a plethora of private sector firms being bombarded with increased obesity-related medical costs; taking penalty measures to the overweight. We have "voluntary" wellness programs, but should you not volunteer, you'll notice your paycheck is a tinge lighter effective 2010 - due to new "associate health and productivity fees". Let's not forget, the proposed "fat" taxes, on insured obese Americans. We're grown, I guess we can handle those consequences ... But, is trickling down to college students going too far? Who's next ... our high schoolers?

I supposed my main offense to this, is people are being forced to lose weight. A force that threatens livelihoods; making you pay more, or in this case, not allowing you to receive those credentials you've spent years applying yourself to acquire. I feel it takes away from the experience of willingness, the beauty of a personal decision, and integral effort. Fear moves people, but it does not always inspire, shouldn't that be the purpose?

I am an advocate for weight loss, and better health. I commend there are classes that address the epidemic of obesity, and it's disproportionate rates in the black community. It's fact, heart disease, diabetes and other preventable ailments, are killing us! But I'm with others, when I say - make it a requirement for ALL STUDENTS, if you're in fact concerned on how lifestyles/physical appearance translate into the post-collegiate world. ~PC

Other sources and commentary:

The Lincolnian Online: "BMI Requirement Causes Uproar" by Sharifa Riley

The Grio: "Lincoln University Shouldn't Throw it's Weight Around" by Charlton McIlwain

BBC: "US university links exam success to weight loss" by Helena Merriman

Yahoo! Health: "pa. university students upset about fitness class" by Kathy Matheson

Inside HigerEd: "A Different Kind of Test" by Jennifer Epstein