Deep within the Student Life Center basement, the doorway hides a tall, narrow staircase. Dimly lit and decidedly nondescript, it leads to an equally plain running track suspended above the center’s basketball courts.
At each of the starcase’s landings, there’s a small, framed orange plaque listing the names of various faculty, staff and students. Each commemorates RIT Running Club members who have reached a certain milestone. As these awards spans from the “100 Mile Club” to the “1,000 Mile Club,” the list of names rapidly shrinks. At the very top of the stairs, only a scarce few are listed. Diligent both in body and mind, these devoted few are recognized for their truly impressive drive and discipline.
Totaled, it’s surprising how few names are there; less than 100 of RIT’s 17,000 students grace those walls. And it’s not for lack of effort — RIT offers plenty of exercise opportunities — but rather student apathy towards health.
College is a highly formative experience; with no parental safety net, students must develop work, social and personal habits that will shape their futures. Overwhelmed with projects, alcohol and newfound social pressures, exercise gets unduly relegated to the wayside. After all, it’s easy to feel immortal at 2.
Despite RIT’s already substantive efforts, it must develop incentives to encourage an active and healthy student lifestyle. The Institute’s wellness department can help by increasing its programming; the two-course wellness is simply insufficient. With the more relaxed schedule semesters will bring, the Institute has an even more wonderful opportunity to bring wellness where it should be: front and center. Considering America’s obesity epidemic, additional wellness requirements would only benefit the RIT population. It’s not what students want; it’s what they need.
While the university offers and endless number of wellness events and seminars, they’re not reaching anywhere near the audience they could. RIT certainly has the resources; just last weekend, the Institute hosted Freezefest. Rather than simply devoting that money to get students out of their dorms, it should be focused on getting them moving. A lot of this comes down to promotion and awareness. The programming is there; students just need to be made better aware of it.
In the meantime, Reporter has devoted this special issue to exploring wellness. It presents advice on getting started and chronicles those dedicated to helping students improve both body and mind.