About two weeks ago, I received an email from Pacific Lutheran University asking me to complete a survey related to my experience with the universities’ General Education Program, or, GenEds.
At first, I’ll admit, I ignored it, perhaps being too preoccupied with writing articles for this fine newspaper.
After receiving two reminder emails, I caved and tried to think back to what I did and didn’t like about my GenEd classes.
For the most part, they were very informative—at times even eye-opening—and some of my favorite classes at PLU have been ones that didn’t have anything to do with my major.
Then I started thinking of a debate I had with a friend about the university’s physical education requirements.
Why, my friend asked, should students be required to pay the university to be physically active? Should students who have to take out substantial student loans be exempt? What about student-athletes who exercise on a daily basis?
According PLU’s website, as part of GenEd’s, almost every student is required to fulfill a certain amount of credits in five areas of study: Engaging Arts and Performance, Interpreting Living Conditions for a Humane Future, Exploring Nature and Number, Investigating Human Behavior, Culture & Institutions and Encountering Perspectives on Diversity.
PHED falls under the first category of the five, and in order to graduate, students must complete three activity courses and PHED 100: Personalized Fitness Program.
Basically, students are spending thousands of dollars to take PHED classes that may: 1. require the student to take out more student loans than necessary and 2. take time away from studying for classes that are needed to complete a degree.
That doesn’t even take into account that some people just don’t want to be physically active.
If it is not part of your lifestyle, and if you don’t want it to be, it does seem a bit unfair.
But here’s how I look at it:
I am incredibly fortunate to not have student loans hanging over my head once I graduate, so for me, PHED classes aren’t so bad.
I can actually use my legs and not have to sit behind a desk or in front of a computer for long hours on end.
As a former student-athlete, it also allows me to be slightly competitive again and have fun.
Everyone’s experience is different, however, and what works for me may not work for you.
However, I will say this: the overarching theme of PLU’s mission as a university is to educate its student’s minds and bodies.
A big part of learning is stepping outside of your comfort zone, and for some, being active isn’t as easy as it is for others.
That being said, it can be seen as a good thing that PLU cares about keeping its students healthy by discouraging a sedentary lifestyle through required PHED classes.
Or, it can be seen as a ploy to squeeze more money out of students.
That is for you to decide.
In the end, there doesn’t really seem to be a right answer, and maybe there doesn’t have to be.
Attitude goes a long way in determining whether something is beneficial to you or not.
While the cons may appear to outweigh the pros in this argument, you may one day be sitting in a cubicle daydreaming about playing badminton in Olson Gym.