OP-EDS

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December 3, 2002

Staff Editorial

The University's Physical Education and Athletics Department has recently been under scrutiny. While some employees of the athletics department have claimed widespread problem in the department's dealings with personnel and finances, the Maroon would take this occasion to reconsider the physical education testing and classes overseen by the athletics department.

Students have long believed that the physical education requirement imposed by this university is at best anachronistic. The spirit of the requirement--that graduates of the University be well-rounded in both mind and body--is certainly a reasonable one. But the specific measures taken to realize that spirit are less than satisfactory; everyone must acknowledge that many people emerge from the College in less than ideal physical condition.

While any test that must be administered to more than a thousand students in a short period of time will necessarily be inaccurate at times, a quick survey of student opinion will reveal a widespread discontent and confusion as regards the mechanics of the fitness test. The grip test, notably, has confounded scores of first-years. While the general motivation of the test is, again, well-intentioned, it simply does not achieve its goals.

An alternative system might be better apportioned to these objectives. First, the fitness test should probably be updated. A survey of similar tests and a cursory re-examination of the test elements would presumably suffice. Second, those students who do enroll in fitness classes should be recommended for future placement by their instructors. This would allow those students who should have passed the initial test but failed by some fluke to escape its unfortunate legacy.

The University of Chicago has, in recent years, reassessed and modified the core curriculum to fit the changing demands of today's students. It only makes sense that the physical education component experience a similar reconsideration.