Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
PE requirements have recently become significant in students’ consideration of course loads. Beginning with the class of 2011, all rising-juniors that have not completed four PE credits by the end of sophomore year will not receive a junior housing number. Instead, they will pick into living arrangements with a number from the class below, decreasing their likelihood of having the most desirable housing.
Many students have held the impression that the PE requirement was changed from having to be completed by the end of senior year, to that of sophomore year. This, however, is false. It is explicitly stated in Swarthmore Course Catalog that, “As a requirement for graduation, all students, not excused for medical reasons, are required to complete 4 units of physical education by the end of their sophomore year.”
Dean Garikai Campbell, who spearheaded the venture, says that the measures have been taken to ensure the requirement is taken seriously. “There hasn’t been a change in policy,” he said.
“Currently there are 75 seniors not meeting the PE Requirement,” he continued. “This places too much burden on the athletic department. And what if something were to happen? Should people with injury be given a waiver? They’ve had four years to complete this requirement.”
Swarthmore students have mixed feelings about the new policy.
“I think it will help them so that they won’t be in a hurry their senior year in regards to PE,” commented Lorenzo Ramirez ’10.
Mary Prager ’11 felt that the change might be a little harsh. “I live in ML now as a freshman, and I don’t want to live in ML again. I think the punishment might be a little harsh. I find it frustrating trying to fit a PE class into my schedule, though I understand reasons for the policy change.”
Senior Rahul D’Silva was equally opposed. “I think the change is unwise and unnecessary. If the administration wishes to reduce the stress put on the Athletic Department, seniors who have waited until the very last minute—granted they are lotteried out of their PE classes—should have to take a class at another school or be forced to delay their graduation. The rule is explicitly stated; that’s enough.”
As to those who wish to change the requirement’s deadline from the sophomore year, Campbell noted that he could not immediately implement new policy. “I don’t have the authority to change the policy,” Campbell said. New policy would have to be first consulted with the administration, faculty, Athletic Department, and students.
The PE Department has a large range of sports activities and dance classes from which to choose. That is to say, you don’t have to repeat high school gym class to get your four credits out of the way. Yoga and table tennis are great sweatless alternatives.
The college website includes a full list of PE course offerings.