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Campus Union proposes to remove fitness credit for student athletes

Photo+by+Addie+Porter%0AStudents+participating+in+a+fitness+class+at+Wofford+this+year.+Student+athletes+are+no+longer+required.
Photo by Addie Porter Students participating in a fitness class at Wofford this year. Student athletes are no longer required.

Wofford College is among many liberal arts schools to have a “well-rounded” catalog of general education course requirements. Foreign language, fine arts, cultures and peoples and natural sciences are seemingly all common requirements that all students must complete.

Perhaps a more unique condition Wofford has implemented is the wellness category, which encompasses two courses, First-year interactive seminar, dubbed “FYI 101,” and a physical education course.

The physical education, or PHED, credit includes a variety of one credit hour, pass-fail classes, such as general fitness, yoga, dance, tennis, racquetball and team sports.

Currently, all Wofford students must pass one of these physical education courses to earn a Wofford degree.

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According to the Wofford Physical Education Department, the goals of the physical education courses and department are to maintain and/or improve their health level and or/skill level for such activity, provide students with a broad knowledge of rules, safety and strategies for chosen activities and to gain knowledge of techniques and strategies for maintaining a healthy and wellness focused level of activity.

Although the school may intend to maintain the wellness of its students through this credit, many students would argue that this credit has hurt their wellness by adding stress to student’s already taxing course load.

Especially for student athletes, the physical education credit can pose a burden, as they are already in the gym for extensive hours each day.

This was the case for Lauren Evan Gilmer ‘23, biology and Spanish double major and a member of the Wofford College cheerleading team.

Gilmer took a general fitness class in fall 2020, and she argues that the course, along with her cheerleading workouts, made her stressed and physically exhausted.

“I think that the physical education requirement for student athletes is a major cause of stress,” Gilmer said. “Personally, I had lift and practice twice a week, and coupling a fitness class with that is too much. I had days where I had fitness, lift and a game and it made me exhausted.”

Beyond Wofford, a physical education credit is somewhat common among smaller liberal arts schools. Many larger state schools, such as Clemson University, do not require their students to take a physical education course.

Davidson College, a liberal arts school in Davidson, North Carolina, implements a similar fitness general education requirement as Wofford. However, Davidson has made the decision to allow student athletes to exempt the credit, since they already endure so much physical activity due to their sports.

Blake Peterson ‘25 is a member of the Davidson College soccer team. Peterson echoes that the exemption from a fitness course has allowed him to be less stressed and have more time to pursue his philosophy, politics and economics mixed degree.

“I did not have to take a physical education credit because I was exempt for being on the Davidson men’s soccer team,” Peterson said. “Not being required to take a physical education course helped with stress because I had more free time to do other work and focus on my sport.”

Wofford student athletes may similarly be able to alleviate some of the stress that accompanies being a full time student and student-athlete, thanks to a recent Campus Union resolution.

Marga van der Linde ‘25, a member of Wofford’s track and field team, proposed and passed a resolution onNov. 7, 2022 to “formally recommend that the General Education Fitness Credit be made non-compulsory through Conditional Exception for past and present registered NCAA Student-Athletes at Wofford College.”

This resolution will work to alter the general education requirements and create a less stressful college experience for student athletes. Hopefully, this amendment will allow athletes more time to focus on their studies and take a break from their strenuous exercise schedules

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