You expect your college to help you organize your courses, do the required dorm room maintenance, and inform you about semi-interesting events. Would you expect them to send you emails encouraging you to join weight loss programs? Uhh, that would be a no. BuzzFeed reported that students at all-female Bryn Mawr college received an email from the school’s health center, encouraging those with “elevated BMIs” to join a fitness program. Needless to say, it upset a lot of people including junior, Rudrani Sarma.
The email’s subject was “Give a HOOT!” The first line actively called on students to join the program:
“We want YOU to be in the Fitness OWLS (Onward to Weight Loss Success) Program.”
The rest of the email discusses how the program is a collaboration between Dining Services, the Athletic Department and Health Center, and it is for students with high BMIs. There is no cost to the program, and it includes nutrition counseling and a fitness plan. (You can see a copy on the email on BuzzFeed.)
A lot of people would be upset by the email. It is basically telling students that they need to loose weight, and that something is wrong with their bodies. Rudrani was very shocked by the insensitive email. She was treated for an eating disorder at the very same health center. She described the email as “triggering.”
Rudrani posted a response to the email on Facebook. She called the health center out on how awful and discriminatory the message was by “compiling a list of ‘fat’ students.” Rudrani also emailed the health center personally, who sent her an apologetic reply. They explained that she had been included on the list by mistake, due to an error of a nurse entering her measurements in wrong on her file. They promised they would also alter the language in the email, and get rid of the first line.
Rudrani wasn’t satisfied with the response because it was the actual email that was problematic, not just the wording. After getting little response from school administrators, Rudrani and other students have formed a committee and are planning a protest against the school for “policing our body.” They want the college to apologize for the incident.
A spokesman for Bryn Mawr college told BuzzFeed that this program has been offered three times, but this is the first complaint. He apologized if the email upset anyone, and claimed he was in contact with those upset about it.
Students have enough to worry about from paying ridiculous tuition fees, to countless assignments, to work and exams. They don’t need to worry about an inappropriate email from the school suggesting they need to change their bodies. It would be one thing to send a general email to the entire student body about tips on how to have a healthy lifestyle. However, telling specific students they should be in a fitness and nutrition program is too much. Hopefully Rudrani and the other students will be successful in getting the public apology they deserve.