Archive for November, 2009

We put your diploma at the end of this obstacle course

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Via Deadspin, I found this story about a college in Pennsylvania, Lincoln University, with an interesting graduation requirement: students with a body mass index over 30 have to take a physical education class. They don’t have to actually lose weight or body mass, but they have to take the course, which consists of “walking, aerobics, weight training and other physical activities, as well as information on nutrition, stress and sleep.”

Some students object to this rule. One, Tiana Y. Lawson, wrote an opinion piece in the school paper titled “Too Fat to Graduate.” With a headline like that, you know it has to be a thoughtful, well-reasoned discussion of the issue, right?

Lawson starts out by acknowledging that the school has had the policy since 2006, but that “it seems as though Lincoln is more adamant about students taking the course this year.” So the first class of student to whom the rule applies are being pressured to fulfill a graduation requirement they’ve had three years to meet? Well, that makes no sense! Tell me more!

Lawson goes on to say, “I feel as though the administration is now telling me that not being a size two may hinder me from graduating from Lincoln.” Now, I don’t know much about women’s sizes, but I do know that there’s a lot of range between a size two and a BMI of 30. Even if BMI is a flawed or incomplete metric, this isn’t a situation where the school is using Kate Moss as a model for their graduation robes. It would be just a hyperbolic of me to assert that this rule will only apply to the fat twins on motorcycles from the Guinness book. But regardless of what Lawson “feels,” this policy isn’t a putsch against everyone who isn’t waifish.

Lawson makes a point, somewhat obliquely, by noting that if the aim of the phys. ed requirement is to “make everyone healthy” (as a friend put it), then everyone should be required to go. After all, skinny people can be unhealthy, too — ask Keith Richards. And maybe some people with a BMI over 30 are perfectly healthy, too. (You know, if they’re seven feet tall.) So maybe the college should require the course for everyone. But short of that, why not try to do some good without being terribly overinclusive?

I can see some cause for consternation if Lincoln had sprung this policy on its students with no warning. But, as noted, the rule has been in place since 2006, and students have had plenty of time to (a) not attend Lincoln, (b) transfer, (c) lobby the administration to change the policy, or (d) take the course. Weeks before one’s final semester isn’t the time to start griping. And hey — at least they don’t go to VMI. That school requires a phys. ed course every semester except the first one, when being a “rat” is exertion enough. Oh, and finally, who complains about taking what sounds like a fairly easy course during their last semester in college? Isn’t that the best time to try some of that experimentation I mentioned in the last post?!

The robes probably smell like mothballs, too

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

A little sports story in Mississippi has turned into quite the hullabaloo. The University of Mississippi (or “Ole Miss”) band had been playing a song during football games called “From Dixie With Love.” At the end of the song, a contingent of students and fans recently started chanting “The South will rise again!” Anyway, long story short, the school administration banned the song, hoping to quell the chant. Many Rebel fans were upset, but I’m not writing to get into the merits of that call.

The controversy of the banning of the “Dixie” song led to some yokels in the Ku Klux Klan to announce they would show up at this Saturday’s game in protest. I believe the quote was that they wanted to prevent Ole Miss from turning into “another liberal sodomite college.” (Hey, doesn’t everybody do a little experimenting in college?)

Well, the Kluxers showed up all right — about a half-dozen of them. Not exactly a terrorizing turnout for observers. And while the small number of idiots (and the high number of counter-protesters) is a good sign, my favorite image from the “rally” is their flag. In the picture above, which I first saw at Dr. Saturday, notice how perfectly creased the Confederate battle flag is. That thing’s spent a whole lot of time folded up in storage. You know those guys haven’t done much night-riding and marching and whatnot if they haven’t even bothered to iron the creases out of their flag. Or maybe they leave that to the KKK Ladies’ Auxiliary. In any event, a pretty sorry demonstration.

Controversy = Page hits

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

I’m about to post a thought that occurred to me about the House health care bill, and more specifically the Stupak amendment that secured its passage. I’m not going to weigh in on abortion as a practice. Honestly I doubt it’s even in my top 10 issues I care about when it comes to politics, and I think the bill is horrible regardless of how it’s dealt with. However, many liberal blogs are unsurprisingly outraged about it. Over at the Tapped blog there are many posts railing about the amendment, and there is a great deal of effort to refer to the issue as “reproductive health”. After all, if it’s got health in the name, it must have to be included in a health care bill.

But the question I have has to do more with the basic nature of insurance itself, at least as we currently know it. Insurance does not cover elective procedures. If it’s not medically necessary, insurance doesn’t pay for it. My Lasik surgery payments are proof of that. Abortion, except in obvious exceptions, is essentially an elective procedure. It’s right there in the name of the supporters, Pro-CHOICE. In most cases, it’s a choice made by the woman or couple based on lifestyle choice, not on medical health. So why should insurance cover this particular elective procedure and not others?