No more swimming to graduation

You can now graduate without being able to swim

Inside Higher Ed carries the shock news that the University of Chicago has decided to drop its swimming, fitness tests and PE requirements for graduation:

The University of Chicago this month became the latest institution to drop a swimming proficiency test required for graduation. But Chicago made another change, as well: it will eliminate its physical education requirements and, in doing so, cut the fitness test students could take to place out of the fitness classes.

In a statement sent to all undergraduates, College Dean John W. Boyer and Karen Warren Coleman, vice president for campus life and student services, said students will instead “be invited to participate in an expanded array” of voluntary physical education, athletics and recreation programs.

“Whatever the reason for the initial decision [by the dean of students] in 1953, our students’ needs have changed over the years,” Warren Coleman said in prepared comments sent to reporters via e-mail. “Our community members can pursue their varied athletic interests without the need for a curricular requirement.” She added that “more than half” of the university’s peer institutions do not have physical education requirements for graduation. The number of PE courses in the catalog, which now will be taken voluntarily and not-for-credit, has “decreased,” a spokesman said.

I must admit to being rather astounded that such a requirement existed in the first place. Even more so that it has remained in place for nearly 60 years. But it does seem that others have similar requirements. Whilst in the UK we would all be keen to promote sporting activities to students and healthy living more broadly I simply can’t imagine it being included as any kind of formal requirement for graduation. Bizarre.


3 thoughts on “No more swimming to graduation

  1. My mother graduated from a private college in Illinois in the 60s that had a swimming requirement. She can’t now, nor could she ever, swim. I guess what I’m saying is, the requirement may have been on the books, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was enforced very vigorously.

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