Universities encourage green behavior. Should the require it?

AP Photo/The Daily News Leader, Mike Tripp

Students at Lincoln University with a body mass index of 30 or more are required to take, and pass, a physical fitness course before they graduate. The controversial measure, the university has explained, is an effort to combat obesity and help at-risk students improve their "quality and quantity of life."

Not everyone agrees with the program. As the first group of students included made to meet the requirement approach graduation, many have criticized the policy. In a recent editorial in the school's newspaper, Senior Tiana Lawson wrote:

I didn't come to Lincoln to be told that my weight is not in an acceptable range...I came here to get an education which, as a three-time honor student, is something I have been doing quite well, despite the fact that I have a slightly high Body Mass Index.

And it's not only students who are upset. One lawyer commented that the requirement seemed "paternalistic" and "intrusive."

Wa$ted! Goes Green at School: Watch "A Basic Education"

Still, for all of its detractors, some students like the idea. One student commented that "being in this day and age where people are becoming overweight and need more fitness, I think it's a great idea to earn extra credit, an easy extra credit."

In spite of its good intensions, such a rule is extreme, to say the least. The question that it raises, however, is whether such extreme measures are warranted. In the case of obesity, the administration of Lincoln University believes they are. But what about other issues, like environmental responsibility?

Go Green to Graduate?

Should students be required to take a class on environmentally responsible behavior before they graduate? Certainly, if the planet's pressing environmental problems are to be solved, more awareness is needed. Even simple things, like recycling, have not been adopted by everyone.

Of course, like fitness and nutrition, environmental responsibility is already taught to students from elementary school through college. Education, then, is not the cure-all it might seem on paper but, as one Lincoln University student implied, repetition makes a difference.

"It is like you're getting a second chance to actually do fitness in school, which certain people wouldn't do," she said. Maybe what we need to do is give people a second chance to help the planet.

Do you think environmental responsibility classes should be mandated in school? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @PlanetGreen.