Not all of us are still the metabolic freaks we were in high school. College life can quickly turn a high school Adonis into a formless blob if not properly prepared. Thankfully students of Lincoln University no longer have to worry about that. Administrators at Lincoln have mandated students must have their waist measured and take a test determining their Body Mass Index. Anyone who has a BMI of 30 or above must pay for and pass a new fitness course called “Fitness for Life” where students lose weight by participating in a variety of embarrassments – I mean – exercises ranging from Tae Bo to water jazzercise. Those who do not pass the course do not leave Lincoln with a degree. BMI is not always a perfect meter for obesity, body builders and even Michael Jordan in his prime had a BMI of 30, so a waist measurement is also taken to exempt these students from the program. James Deboy, chairman of Lincoln’s department of health and physical education, said the requirement is just like courses to help students’ communications or math proficiency and that “as educators, (we) must tell students when we believe, in our heart of hearts, when certain factors, certain behaviors, attitudes, whatever, are going to hinder that student from achieving and maximizing their life goals.”
I couldn’t agree more with Deboy: “Mens sana in corpore sano” or, it takes a healthy body to sustain a healthy mind. Lincoln University is now in the vanguard of higher education with college’s first ever officially sanctioned “No Fat Chicks” (or dudes) policy. Obesity is a serious life issue and even though it’s a personal responsibility, I applaud Lincoln’s administration for not only embarrassing its students into staying fit but also making them pay for it. Like Machiavelli, Lincoln’s administration knows it is better to be feared than loved by students. I can’t fathom the fear it must instill on the school’s borderline obese to get in shape – unless they want to be openly mocked through the rest of their life for being so sedentary and unsightly that their own school refused to let them publicly hold a degree from them with their name on it. Now, with an already soaring 28 percent graduation rate, perhaps all of their students that are too fat to walk to graduation won’t be able to, pushing Lincoln even higher into the academic elite.
If Miami University wants to continue to be considered an institution of the truly erudite, it needs to follow trailblazers like Lincoln and personally see to it that every student’s deficiency is taken care of, on their tab of course. For instance, students with alcohol violations or “sobriety deficiencies,” are often probated and required to complete a course of the notoriously ineffectual AlcoholEdu. Instead, Miami should take a more personally intrusive, hands-on approach and require students guilty of alcohol infractions to purchase and drink an entire bottle of tequila including worm in front of student court within an hour. The following week, the student would be forced to wear a blood alcohol content (BAC) monitoring bracelet wired to a small Semtex explosive device. If the student’s BAC drops below a certain point, a la the movie Speed, the bomb will detonate. The guilty party’s new, sickening association with alcohol will make them think twice before over-imbibing again.
This type of thinking can be applied to help any non-academic deficiency. Students deemed awkward by their peers can be required to pay for a life coach and wear a small camera to record that person’s daily interactions throughout the week. At the end of each week the tape would be submitted to a “social conduct council,” comprised of their peers, that critiques their behavior and offers advice until the person is deemed socially proficient. A few years ago a friend of mine assaulted a classmate uptown and was accused of using an ethnic slur in the process. Miami rightly disciplined him by putting him on probation and required he attend classes on the person’s cultural background. Why not take it one step further though, making him undergo extensive cosmetic surgery, a la the movie Faceoff, to become a caricature of that ethnicity. Then assimilate with that culture and eventually endure the struggles of those people as well as the pain that slur causes, which would be wrapped up with a 100-word essay.
The end game is to prepare students for life after college. However, if we want our students to truly be prepared for whatever life throws at them, we need to remove the most hindering deficiency to living life – fear. This can be accomplished by mandating bi-weekly surprise live-fire combat exercises around campus staged by our fine ROTC. Not only will it keep students on their toes and make them fearless, it will be a great opportunity for ROTC students to sharpen their aim around civilians. Having schools get involved in all aspects of students’ lives is the best way to prepare them for the world of tomorrow. College shouldn’t be an independent adventure in experiential learning and self-discovery where 18 to 20-some year olds take on personal responsibilities, it should be a closely monitored, intrusive and on-the-rails process to a job.