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Old 08-21-2007, 01:20 PM   #1
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Default College dilemma

I have a friend that has a college dilemma. She is also a member of DIMs and is an SSBBW. She is about to start a music industry-related class. Orientation is next week and she has already moved all her stuff up to her new apartment ready. However, she has now discovered that the college requires all freshmen to take part in various 'physical activities' including canoeing and an 8 mile hike. Not something to look forward to as an SSBBW. These are supposedly to keep freshmen 'active' and 'reduce drop-out rates'. She has been told that if she does not take part in these 'activities' that she will not be allowed to stay at the college. She was not made aware of these activities at any point during the application/interview process and has told me that had she known about them she may have looked elsewhere. I was shocked when I heard about this as clearly for an SSBBW these 'activities' are potentially stressful and/or embarrassing situations especially when trying to make friends amongst strangers. She has told me that she has tried talking to the college about it and is getting nowhere.

So. I am posting on the boards to canvass for creative suggestions as to what action to take. I don't think it's fair that she have to do these crazy activities that have nothing whatsoever to do with her course. I'm basically hoping for someone legally savy who could suggest a course of action to take. Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-21-2007, 01:25 PM   #2
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Has she checked into the physical education curriculum to see if maybe there is a class she could handle. At a local community college here they have a PE requirement for graduation, and another fat student told me she took Tai Chi to meet the requirement. She said it was low impact, low energy. Or perhaps your friend get an exemption from her doctor, if she is unable to keep up with any of the courses offered?
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Old 08-21-2007, 01:39 PM   #3
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I should make it clear that these 'activities' are nothing to do with the class that she's taking. They are for all freshmen in all classes. So it's not a matter of switching to a class that's less physically demanding.
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Old 08-21-2007, 01:53 PM   #4
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She should talk to her advisor about the obvious complications in an SSBBW canoeing with others of different (read: significantly lower) body weights. I would indicate that she supports the team-building efforts, but the inequities in equipment available (I'm assuming they won't have a supersized canoe) will only serve to alienate this one participant, and are thus unfair and ill-advised.

Easier way out, have her talk to her doctor and get him to write a note excusing her.

Additionally, if you need to play dirty, there are obvious safety concerns that could come into play here - advising the college of that ("I won't be safe in a canoe that is not rated for my size and weight - what is your insurance coverage? I'd like a statement of your legal liability if I am hurt during mandatory activities") could get them to back down, or find a way for her to participate without causing her physical or emotional harm.
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Old 08-21-2007, 02:17 PM   #5
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Along the lines of playing dirty: ask if they have a PDF (life jacket) rated for her weight--good chance they don't.

But more seriously, this sounds like a bureaucratic thing--it is decreed somewhere that everyone has to do this. But obviously if they get someone in a wheelchair, or currently suffering pheumonia, or something like that, they will waive it in some way. It is a matter of finding who can make that decision--and doing the appeal in a way where she doesn't seem like she is just trying to be lazy--she needs to focus on the health hazards, and probably suggest alternate activities she could do, or something.

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Old 08-21-2007, 03:15 PM   #6
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I know what you mean, we have something along those lines at our school as well, though, not as extreme. I really think that all she needs to do is to talk to her counsellor about getting a waiver. As others have said, she needs to point out her physical limitations. If possible, get a doctor's note ahead of time, stating that it would be ill advised for someone her size to go on an 8-mile hike, etc. It is a health related limitation, and she should be treated with the same deference as someone say in a wheelchair.

Just out of curiosity, did she actually attempt to have this waved already? If so, what was the school's answer/rational?

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Old 08-21-2007, 08:33 PM   #7
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Where I'm confused is what kind of college requires this? I have friends at small liberal arts schools that have trips of these sorts for freshmen who WANT to participate and meet others before moving in and beginning their first semester of classes, but I've never heard of anything being mandatory. There are other ways to build a community that don't involve alienating someone who will be a part of it!
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Old 08-21-2007, 08:39 PM   #8
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I was required to participate in some similar things, but they were for my major--I was an education/English major...I had to run a mile. As if. I walked it.
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:06 PM   #9
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I don't know what the laws are like in the U.K. but signing up into a college or university is a legally binding contract. She has to abide by the contract, they have to abide by the contract. The contract has to be written and entered in good faith (i.e. both parties are aware of what the terms of the contract are... or they should... and that it can be realistically fulfilled.) Whoever registered her into the college (assuming she went there in person...) obviously saw her size and should have known (or could reasonably be expected to know) how the "physical activities" aspect of admission would affect her. If she registered and was accepted by mail then she is screwed as far as the contract aspect goes. If the counselors won't work something out with her than she has to attend the classes and just do what she can. If they tell her to get into a canoe she should say yes, and that she expects, for her own safety that the canoes will accommodate her weight. Again, I don't know the laws in the U.K., but general common law wisdom regarding a contract is that as long as she tries to fulfill her obligations of the contract (her admission to the college and their requirements...) they'd better be able accommodate her, if they don't they aren't fulfulling their contractual obligations.

Hope that helps.

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Old 08-21-2007, 10:48 PM   #10
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Sounds like a job for Russell Williams to me.
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:49 PM   #11
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Surely not.
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Old 08-22-2007, 12:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by edx View Post
Along the lines of playing dirty: ask if they have a PDF (life jacket) rated for her weight--good chance they don't.

But more seriously, this sounds like a bureaucratic thing--it is decreed somewhere that everyone has to do this. But obviously if they get someone in a wheelchair, or currently suffering pheumonia, or something like that, they will waive it in some way. It is a matter of finding who can make that decision--and doing the appeal in a way where she doesn't seem like she is just trying to be lazy--she needs to focus on the health hazards, and probably suggest alternate activities she could do, or something.

-Ed
@ the PDF suggestion: I think you have a case of the Adobe's

Ed means PFD (personal flotation device) and I'm sure he is right that they won't have a size for her. Those things require special orders and such.

My question is how do they confirm that everyone takes part in these events? I'm sure the canoeing (sp? ) may be a little hard to get out of, but what if she showed up at the beginning of the hike to check in, slipped away and then showed up near the end to check in again?

PS where is she going to college, Camp Winnemuka? Good lord.
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Old 08-22-2007, 06:17 AM   #13
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College Bureaucracy suck where ever you go.

Red tape, talk to this person, talk to that person, nothing ever gets done, and in the process they walk over federal and state laws just to try and get money from you when their campus security has no right to assign moving violations, or if they decide not to appeal a parking ticket their campus gave out becomes an obvious violation of state laws on Handicap parking.

I just graduated my 4 years at a liberal arts, my girlfriend still goes there and has to deal with all the bull, but I'm free. No more bull about housing, no more bull about scholarships.

The bereacratic system most college's build on themselves are flawed, and it sounds like you've hit one with a pretty impressively built wall.

Good luck, threaten lawsuit if even slightly inconvenienced if you asked for safety measures appropriate for you and they fail to meet them, most schools try to settle for a decent amount. But yeah, it sounds like your administrators, like every school where I've heard these stories, are a bunch of jerks...
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:08 AM   #14
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I really don't think this will turn out to be such a huge issue. I doubt that they will actually insist on her doing these activities, once she discusses the matter with the appropriate person. I am sure they have instances where someone disabled can not fulfill this requirement. By law, they have to accommodate such individuals. Even for the canoing activity. What if the person can not swim/has fear of water. It would be strange for a college to insist that a student do something clearly beyond their ability. I am quite sure that the first thing they will think of is their legal liability.

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Old 08-22-2007, 08:23 AM   #15
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She's talked to me about that too... but I have absolutely no clue what to recommend.

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Old 08-22-2007, 08:54 AM   #16
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How about suggesting a compromise? For example, instead of walking or running in the 8 miler how about driving a "SAG" vehicle where you follow behind to pick up people who drop out or who need a lift, or volunteer to give first aid to people who need it at a first aid station, or volunteer to set up a refreshment station along the route where you serve water & snacks to help the others in their hike? (If a car or 4WD can't make the terrain, maybe a 4 wheeler can.)

In the canoe thing, you could do a similar compromise where you volunteer to set up a feeding station where you organize a supper or lunch for the participants. You could get others to help and the school could furnish supplies and utensils. Your friend could volunteer to organize or assist with the catering or the cleaning up. I'm sure they always need people to help with such an expidition.

The key thing here is to volunteer to help. Don't try to be adversarial. Stress that compromise is important to all involved. That way the school principles of cooperation is fully demonstrated.
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Old 08-22-2007, 11:28 AM   #17
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Sounds like a job for Russell Williams to me.
Let's hope he doesn't happen to stumble upon this thread... for HER sake.
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Old 08-22-2007, 12:02 PM   #18
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Tell her to get to a primary care doctor, and have him write up a formal evaluation for attesting to her fitness level. He/she should list limitations, accomodations, and restrictions for the patient, and the school will need to accept that. She's probably not going to be able to get out of it all together, but they will have to make exceptions.
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:57 PM   #19
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I have a friend that has a college dilemma. She is also a member of DIMs and is an SSBBW. She is about to start a music industry-related class. Orientation is next week and she has already moved all her stuff up to her new apartment ready. However, she has now discovered that the college requires all freshmen to take part in various 'physical activities' including canoeing and an 8 mile hike. Not something to look forward to as an SSBBW. These are supposedly to keep freshmen 'active' and 'reduce drop-out rates'. She has been told that if she does not take part in these 'activities' that she will not be allowed to stay at the college. She was not made aware of these activities at any point during the application/interview process and has told me that had she known about them she may have looked elsewhere. I was shocked when I heard about this as clearly for an SSBBW these 'activities' are potentially stressful and/or embarrassing situations especially when trying to make friends amongst strangers. She has told me that she has tried talking to the college about it and is getting nowhere.

So. I am posting on the boards to canvass for creative suggestions as to what action to take. I don't think it's fair that she have to do these crazy activities that have nothing whatsoever to do with her course. I'm basically hoping for someone legally savy who could suggest a course of action to take. Thanks in advance.
Buy a wheelchair and forge a doctor's note. They can't force you if you're handicapped. And really, they can't force you at all. Hire a lawyer. No one wants a size-discrimination suit on their hands. And for one class? Bullshit. Exercise is personal. I'm 140 fucking pounds and I wouldn't be caught dead in a canoe or running a mile. It's fucking college. Anything that threatens the freshmen fifteen is un-American.

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Old 08-23-2007, 02:24 AM   #20
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Buy a wheelchair and forge a doctor's note. They can't force you if you're handicapped. And really, they can't force you at all. Hire a lawyer. No one wants a size-discrimination suit on their hands. And for one class? Bullshit. Exercise is personal. I'm 140 fucking pounds and I wouldn't be caught dead in a canoe or running a mile. It's fucking college. Anything that threatens the freshmen fifteen is un-American.

The part about the size discrimination suit is true...but everyone here has a point, theres gotta be a way around it, if not for "saftey" reasons alone. If a student is required to go on a trip and is injured (which is quite possible for an SSBBW on a backpacking trip), who's liable? If your friend has an understanding doctor who's not anti-fat, she should be able to get a note from him/her stating that she isn't in the condition to participate in those activities. I can't imagine, unless its an extremely liberal outdoorsy kinda college, that this stuff would actually be REQUIRED. It seems a little much to me...
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:35 AM   #21
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extremely liberal outdoorsy kinda college
Well, there you are.

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Old 08-23-2007, 11:30 AM   #22
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I just wanted to thank everyone who has posted for their replies on behalf of my friend.
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:33 PM   #23
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I understand your concerns, but I'm going to play the devil's advocate for a moment.

If this sort of thing is mandatory, I'm pretty sure she would have been able to find out about it had she done research on the college- such things don't just get ignored in reviews or columns.

Also, at least for me, a very outdoorsy college = lots of physical activities, such as canoeing and hiking. I wanted to go to Prescott College until I saw that the freshman orientation was similar to a bootcamp regime, which you needed to go through before starting classes. In their advertising they showed it as basic camping, time to get to know your peers. I googled it on the internet and found, on the first page, several things about what it actually was. Now I don't understand why I didn't make the connection in the first place, and why she didn't either.

But I did do the research before signing up, while she didn't, and that's why I think that the responsibility also lies with her, not just the college.
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Old 08-25-2007, 12:26 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by runningman View Post
I have a friend that has a college dilemma. ...<stuff snipped>... she has now discovered that the college requires all freshmen to take part in various 'physical activities' including canoeing and an 8 mile hike. ...<stuff snipped>... These are supposedly to keep freshmen 'active' and 'reduce drop-out rates'. She has been told that if she does not take part in these 'activities' that she will not be allowed to stay at the college.
Talk about a self fulfilling prophesy, so to speak.

Unfortunately many universities have incorporated this regime in their curriculum in response to Federal legislation. Saying it's to reduce drop out rates is a red-herring. If they receive Federal funds, they have to have a phys-ed program of some type.

It has an undesirable side effect for the fat acceptance community. In effect, it guarantees most future college grads will not be supersize and will not regularly interact with peers who are supersize. As they move into society in positions of authority, they will be less accepting of fat people than previous generations.

Your friends situation is a tough one. I recommend your friend should get a handicapped sticker, placard, or license and then apply for an exemption from the phys-ed stuff on the basis of disability. That's probably the only option she has unless she can find someone willing to go against the administration's rules.

She should consider it her first college lesson: situational ethics.
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Old 08-25-2007, 09:43 PM   #25
Baba Fats
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Baba Fats can now be the recipient of "two cans" jokesBaba Fats can now be the recipient of "two cans" jokes
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Originally Posted by Jay West Coast View Post
Sounds like a job for Russell Williams to me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eightyseven View Post
Let's hope he doesn't happen to stumble upon this thread... for HER sake.
Seriously, folks, Russell has more experience canoeing with SSBBWs than any man alive. He might be able to put this girl's mind at ease about that part of her freshman hazing.
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