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Committee Suggests PE Reform, New Full-Time Post

By Jeffrey Greenbaum

STAFF REPORTER

The Athletics Department Strategic Planning Committee recently released a report recommending that the Athletics Department revise its physical education requirement and improve recreational services to promote long-term health.

In the report’s most recent draft, dated September 2001, the committee concluded that graduate students, staff members, and recreational users, “feel that the Athletics Department neglects their needs in shadow of the intercollegiate programs.”

The draft of the plan recommended that the Athletics Department add a “wellness component” and an independent study option to the physical education requirement.

“I would like MIT to create the physical education program of the future,” said Candace L. Royer, Athletics Department Head and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee.

The committee also recommended that the Athletics Department hire a full-time Director of Recreational sports to oversee club sports, intramural sports, and recreational facilities.

Plan suggests PE reform

According to the strategic plan, “more education must occur regarding nutrition, basic fitness principles, and stress management.” To this end the committee suggested that the Physical Education department offer greater flexibility in the fulfillment of its requirement and that the department work with MIT Medical to add greater breadth to its program.

To reward undergraduate students who regularly participate in unorganized recreational activities, the committee suggests that the Physical Education Department offer an independent study option to receive points towards the physical education requirement. Royer said she would like to see a program in which a student works with a professional to plan and carry out a personal exercise program. The professional would help the student design an appropriate workout schedule, but would not necessarily supervise the student on a day-to-day basis.

“We would like to help people develop a lifetime program for fitness,” Royer said.

In addition, the committee recommended that the Physical Education Department create classes that are less traditional and more recreational in nature. Royer said the addition of such classes would make more students want to fulfill the physical education requirement, rather than feeling that they are forced to complete it. Sample classes include skateboarding, rock climbing, in-line hockey, kayaking, spinning, and fly fishing.

Finally, the committee recommended that the Athletics Department add a “wellness component” to the physical education requirement. The draft of the plan suggests that MIT Medical create classes in topics such as leadership development, nutrition, eating disorders, relationship skills, and mental health initiatives.

New full-time post recommended

The committee recommended that the Athletics Department hire a full-time Director of Recreational Sports to effectively implement the suggested changes to the informal recreational programs, intermural sports, and club sports.

Currently, the department has directors that work full-time for intercollegiate athletics and for physical education, but not for club sports, intramural sports, or informal recreation. “On a campus this size, that is so recreational intensive, we think that this [decision] makes sense...because we do not have anyone who is a [full-time] advocate for recreational sports,” Royer said.

Royer said that the Director of Recreational Sports will be responsible for issues pertaining to athletics facilities and budgeting. In order to ensure that every team has access to the facility of its choice, Royer said that the “Director will look at designing a rotational schedule for the athletic facilities.” He will also explore ideas on fundraising for club sports, intramural sports, and recreational activities.

Report based on feedback

Every two years, a visiting committee, composed of alumni and members of the athletics department evaluates the athletics program at MIT. Last year, Former Chancellor Lawrence S. Bacow ’72 “told the Visiting Committee that this would be a good time for a report,” Royer said. Bacow “wanted the committee to think about what could be improved.”

In September 2000, the Institute formed a nineteen-member committee to begin drafting the report. The committee proceeded to conduct open forums with varsity athletics, club participants, informal recreational users, coaches, and graduate students.

The draft of the report will remain online until November 16, at which point the draft’s writers will revise the report with the community’s feedback. The committee will then present its final draft to the Central Administration.

Issues of funding will be handled by the department administration. “We have a lot of people who have been generous to us, and we think that a lot more people would be if they understood what our needs are,” Royer said.