Cutting gym class

Start your engines—registration is about to begin.

As many of us seasoned registration racers know, the level of stress from registration is almost comparable to the entirety of finals week. There’s just no telling what you’ll walk out with after your 10-minute registration lottery; between the minimum 12 units required to reach full-time status and the maximum 16 units each student is allowed to enroll in, many have found random one-unit courses that put them safely—albeit barely—over the finish line.

However, those “random” one-unit courses that are, at first glance, meant to fill space, can actually result in some of the most meaningful experiences at Sonoma State. Physical education courses are extra valuable; from beginning yoga to advanced basketball, almost every single student at Sonoma State could benefit from relieving the stresses of being in college (case in point: registration) by getting a little exercise.

But according to the Kinesiology Department, quite a few of those one-unit physical education courses will no longer be available for the fall 2014 semester (see page 1).

To be fair, we should have seen it coming. We did shoot down the Academic Success Fee, supposedly the price we needed to pay to guarantee sufficient funding for more classes. But is it so bad that we’d like to have our cake and eat it—or rather, burn it off—too?

Most of the cuts are aimed at courses student-athletes enroll in to practice their skills and stay in shape during the off-season. Kinesiology Department Chair Steven Winter attributed the cause of these cuts to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s regulations of the amount of practice student-athletes are allowed to partake in throughout the year (as if the NCAA needed more bad press).

But from what we gather, it sounds like many of the student-athletes enjoy those courses, regardless of whether or not the classes are required in order to play the sport. The classes provide an opportunity for student-athletes to keep in shape, stay fine-tuned and maintain a strong team dynamic. Perhaps they would be willing to take these courses by their own free will. Why not keep the classes and make it optional for these athletes to enroll?

If these courses are cut, these student-athletes—who have priority registration—will end up enrolling in the other physical education courses, like beginning yoga, that many non-athlete students enjoy. Once those classes are full, the leftover students will have to take it upon themselves to take classes at the Recreation Center, hit the gym or just run a few laps around the track if they want to stay in shape.

Is it the end of the world? Probably not. But it does send an interesting message to our students that regular weekly exercise isn’t important. As sad as it is, we’re so much more likely to force ourselves out of bed to exercise if we’re literally being graded for it. Plus, these classes allow students to push their comfort zones and commit to new things they might not try on their own, which is exactly what college is supposed to be about. Where else will students get the chance to scuba dive, kick box and fence once a week, virtually for free?

We hope the decision to cut these courses is rescinded. But just in case it isn’t, good luck to those students desperate to reach that 12-unit minimum while avoiding the “freshman 15”—you’re going to need it.