Phys Ed. Dept. Argues Against Abolishing Gym Requirement

On the evening of Feb. 28, the Student Government Association carried out a phone survey regarding a proposal that would greatly impact the entire student body, regardless of what college they were in. The proposal is to be discussed at a Faculty Senate meeting in the near future, and its subject is the 2-credit Physical Education requirement. It is recommending that the requirement be dropped; or kept at the discretion of each of the colleges. Of the 100 students called, 71.9 percent had not heard of the issue. Although there was a campus-wide e-mail sent out announcing an open forum during which anyone could make his or her opinion heard on the matter, the rather small turnout at the forum made it evident that most of the campus population did not read the e-mail, or did not feel strongly about the issue. Of those who did show up at the meeting, there was no representation of the campus community in favor of the said proposal. All the opinions stated and points made were in support of the requirements, except when the arguments of “the others” were paraphrased and debated. ‘The requirement interferes with my academic requirements and work,’ was one argument paraphrased. Two of the required 130 credits are physical education. Those against the abolishment of the requirement cited scientific data showing that physical activity improved academic performance. Students who attended the open forum stated that the physical education classes gave them a much-needed break from academic rigors that was welcomed. Others discussed the “silliness” of the argument: How could so small a requirement detract from the time needed for academic work? ‘The students at UVM are adults, and should have the ability to make their own decisions about what physical activities they want to partake in,’ was another argument paraphrased. Declan Connolly of the Physical Education department answered this argument by saying, “Most of our students don’t want to take chemistry, but we make them.” Chemistry though, is an academic requirement for those majoring in many of the sciences. There is a difference between an academic requirement and a physical education requirement. Students consciously decide that they are going to go into a scientific field, and therefore allow themselves to be put through a program that may require subjects that they have no interest in. They take the professor’s word when they are told that, “This is something you will use in the future.” Whether or not they believe this to be true, passing the course will give them the degree they want. Do students come to UVM consciously deciding that they are going to enroll in a program that is going to make itself responsible for the well-being of the “whole student,” physical and intellectual? Rick Farnham, the UVM athletic director, stated that he would like UVM students to “graduate with the desire to lead healthy lives,” and that his department played an important part in attaining this goal. The physical education requirement is the only University-wide curricular requirement at UVM. All of the other requirements vary from college to college are put in place at the discretion of the individual college. One of the supporting arguments used in the proposal was the fact that many of the other regional higher education institutions did not have a physical education requirement. Does the fact that UVM has this requirement reflect badly on the institution, or does it show that UVM wants to have an effect on the physical well being of its student body? The issue is to be voted on by mail by the faculty, and will be discussed at the next faculty senate meeting. If any student feels strongly about the issue, or has questions regarding it, they are urged to attend the meeting or write a letter to the faculty senate voicing their concerns.