Binghamton University’s health and wellness program has us bent out of shape. The courses aimed at effectively improving our lifestyle — and no doubt, most collegians need some wellness guidance — are no more than nuisance requirements upperclassmen must endure in order to receive their degree.
Currently, BU requires students to take a course that fulfills a wellness credit (S) and one that fulfills a physical activity credit (Y) — or a combination course that fulfills both (B). The system in place is broken and instills complacency in its students, rather than a drive to learn proper living habits and actually benefit from wellness education.
As it stands, the small, in-demand classes (supposedly such hot cakes because of their presumed ease), are usually inaccessible for underclassmen at the bottom of the registration totem pole. By the time you can even register for such classes, it is often out of haste and the need to fulfill a credit in order to graduate on time, rather than registering for a course you might actually find beneficial.
And consequently, because these classes are required general education credits, they cannot be taken pass/fail, which creates another issue. Forgive the student who is already pressed with work in their core academic courses for wanting to take a course they can simply enjoy, and not have to worry about draining their GPA because they couldn’t remember which body part each asana is supposed to affect in Yoga.
Now, we’re not saying wellness education isn’t important, nor that it shouldn’t be required — it’s protocol for most universities to have some sort of health credit in place. But there’s a way to improve the wellness of our wellness program.
Design a general wellness seminar geared toward freshmen — a Writing 111 for wellness, if you will. Keep wellness as a requirement, but make the said class a one-stop shop for the credit, with both a wellness and activity component. Specialize the courses perhaps: Gear one toward yoga, one toward swimming and so forth.
Freshmen stand to gain the most from wellness education. Upperclassmen are more or less set in their ways and, if they’ve gained 50 pounds since their freshman year, they probably don’t need a spinning instructor making them write papers to get them to realize their habits are unhealthy. But freshmen can genuinely take lessons learned in wellness courses and nip health issues in the bud before they become habits — or at least get the credit out of way before spring of their senior year.
Wellness education is important, which is exactly why wellness courses shouldn’t be filled by seniors scrambling to fulfill credits, taking classes with complacent attitudes left to do work they don’t want to do.