The healthy food section at the Babylon Student Center food court. Photo by Paula Schultz. (April 11, 2018)
The “Freshman 15.” It’s a dreaded phrase that refers to students’ weight gain as they adjust to life in college.
Actually, according to the National Eating Disorder Association, the average college freshman gains about 2.5 to 3.5 pounds during their first year of college.
When students start college, they get exposed to much greater freedom and stress than they did as children and adolescents. The large selection of cheap junk food and lack of exercise can result in an unhealthy lifestyle and weight gain.
At SCCC, the encouragement of student wellness is rather small. All students are required to take two credits worth of physical education, but students are on their own after that.
Some students understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle by having gym memberships and bringing food from home. Most students, however, find it challenging to fit healthy habits into their busy lives.
There are some opportunities for students to get moving on campus, but they interfere with many students’ schedules.
Zumba and dance classes are offered to students every Wednesday at 11 a.m., but that is during Common Hour and may interfere with students’ club commitments. There is also a weight room open to students at the Brookhaven Gymnasium, but the hours are very inconsistent.
Maintaining a healthy diet is another important factor that many college students tend to brush aside. Fast food is convenient for the average student who does not have the time to make their own meals. The cafeteria is where most students end up in between classes. The lack of healthy – and delicious – options further increase the issue.
The cafeteria at SCCC offers a plethora of food options including Chinese food, pizza, and a Moe’s Southwest Grill. The great number of food options is favored amongst students, but what about the healthy options?
The so-called “nutritious” food area in the cafeteria lies in a refrigerated section in the middle of the food court. Some food options include salads, wraps, sushi and fruit. Unlike the other stations in the food court, the healthy area rarely gets updated with new and interesting food options. It’s always the same Caesar salads and spicy tuna rolls that lack in the flavor department.
Because SCCC is not taking student wellness as seriously as they should, students may forget just how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is not all about looking your best, but, rather, feeling your best.
With academic and life stress being in the way, having a healthy lifestyle may not seem like another important part of life. When in fact, the healthy choices you make now will determine your health in the future.
In order to have a greater emphasis on student health, I think SCCC needs to make some changes in order to resonate with students. Providing a bigger, creative and more updated selection of healthy food options may interest students to make better food choices in school and outside of it.
As far as exercise is concerned, requiring students to take a physical education course every semester may be a challenge because of other graduation requirements. However, SCCC should invest in building another weight room on campus for students who want to work out on their own time.