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Putting It to a Vote
One thousand senior members of the UCLA faculty, most of whom haven't done a push-up or deep knee bend in 20 years, are being asked this week to vote on an athletic issue which has caused much stress among their university's lowerclassmen. The question: Should UCLA give up its 40-year-old compulsory physical education program for freshmen and sophomores, making all P.E. courses strictly elective?
The education policy committee of UCLA's Academic Senate has recommended that P.E. be put on a voluntary basis, and last week mailed ballots to the faculty to get a vote on the proposal. Along with the ballot came 500-word summaries of both sides of the argument.
Gist of the reasoning of the keep-it-compulsory side, written by Dr. Ben W. Miller, director of physical education, whose son Denny is Hollywood's latest Tarzan:
"The students (84.2%) want compulsory P.E. and most U.S. colleges (95%) have it. There is evidence that regular physical education contributes to: improved function (Paul Dudley White, 1957), cardiovascular efficiency (Gemmill, 1930), strength, endurance and agility (Brouha, 1944), rehabilitation following illness (Daniels, 1954), control of obesity (Johnson, 1956), sense of well-being (Bock, 1931), neuromuscular coordination (Jokl, 1955), preservation of the above benefits (McCammon, 1958)."
Gist of the make-it-elective position, as offered by Dr. Robert Tschirgi, UCLA's professor of anatomy and physiology:
The need for physical education should be determined in the same way as the requirements for language, science and humanities, i.e., weighed against the student's needs for other courses.
Faculty members have until next week to ponder and decide. Meanwhile the student newspaper, The Daily Bruin, needed no such cogitation time, concluded:
"Americans are getting potbellied, chicken-chested and short-winded sooner and more permanently than ever before. Even if many UCLA students will eventually come to lead sedentary lives, is this a reason to deny them at least a few years of good conditioning?"
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