By Dale J Rappaneau Jr Contributing Writer
Transfer students, regardless of age or background, are currently required to fulfill UMF’s mandatory PHE course in order to graduate, which has some transfer students feeling frustrated and marginalized.
Andrea Swiedom, a 26-year-old Creative Writing major who commutes an hour to and from UMF, says she was told during enrollment that the PHE course was not required for transfer students. “When my advisor, Jeff [Thomson], told me it was required, I thought he must have had it wrong,” said Swiedom. “I thought it was a joke or that Jeff didn’t know, because I remember being told transfer students didn’t have to take it.”
Swiedom added, “I think the requirement makes sense for younger students who don’t have a good routine established or get too nervous to get into the gym, but common sense should be implemented into the system.”
Michael J Angelides, transfer counselor for UMF, said when he works with transfer students who are concerned about PHE, he tells them it is a “required class for all students” and “a great way to force some students out of their comfort zone and get them familiar and comfortable with the FRC.” He added that, in the past, “it’s entirely possible that I didn’t grasp the requirement for transfers and misrepresented the requirement to some of them early in my role as transfer counselor.”
Alison Thayer, coordinator of first-year collegiate physical fitness, stands behind the college’s requirement for all students, traditional and transfer alike, to take the mandatory PHE course. “Even transfers will benefit with becoming familiar with the Fitness and Recreation Center,” she said. “They’ll get to know others who exercise, maybe find a study partner—and being active benefits everyone, regardless of age.” Thayer later added, “ I can certainly see how the PHE course could be stressful for the person who commutes, has kids, and a full-time job. I understand a 30-year-old isn’t going to want to be in a class with 20-year-olds, which is why we try to be flexible, just come to me and let’s talk.”
Part of that flexibility is being demonstrated during this semester by students like Swiedom, who are fulfilling their PHE requirement through a Mainely Outdoors learn-to-ski program. “That’s a totally new idea,” said Thayer, who credited adjunct professor Scott Hoisington for spearheading the program’s implementation. “They take about twenty or thirty students and twice a week they learn to ski on Titcomb, with a third day attending the regular PHE class. We want our students to learn physical activity skills that they’ll take with them after graduation, and this is one example.”
Although appreciative that the learn-to-ski program is fulfilling the PHE requirement, Swiedom said she “would have learned to ski regardless of the PHE credit,” and still feels the requirement for transfers to take the PHE course is less beneficial and more “bureaucratic nonsense.” Thayer, on the other hand, is thankful for having taken the PHE course when she attended UMF, for it inspired her to learn how to cross-country ski, a passion she still enjoys today.