College removes swim requirement after allegations of racism

Williams College's faculty board voted 103-30 in favor of removing the requirement.

According to the Center for Disease Control, minorities under the age of 29 were more likely to die via unintentional drowning than their white counterparts.

Williams College recently removed its swim test from the list of graduation requirements due to controversy over its alleged racism. 

In a meeting on May 11, a faculty board voted 103-30 in favor of removing the requirement due to fears of racial disparities, The Williams Record  

The college is located in Williamstown, Massachusetts. 

Williams College Diversity Advisory Research Team conducted a study regarding the swim test between 2013-2019, which found that 81% of students that took the college’s "beginner swim course" were “domestic students of color” while only 3% were domestic White students.

Students that fail the initial swim test must take the course to satisfy the college's requirement. 

Jeff Wiltse, a professor from the University of Montana, argues in a recent Chronicle for Higher Education article that these swims tests are “clear and obvious past discrimination.” 

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Clear and obvious past discrimination still is a primary, if not the primary, reason why we have these disparate swimming proficiency rates today," he writes. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) minorities under the age of 29 were more likely to die via unintentional drowning than their white counterparts. Asian and Black students were the most at risk. 

Campus Reform reached out to Professor Wiltse about his support for removing the swim course. 

He told Campus Reform that “past racial discrimination” resulted in a lack of swim lessons and overall access to pools and that was why he was in support of removing the swim requirement. 

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“I stated that the contemporary race-based swimming disparities (studies have found that black Americans are almost half as likely to know how to swim as white Americans) is a product of past racial discrimination in the provision of and access to swimming pools and swim lessons," he said. 

Swim tests have been a part of college campuses since the early 1900s but many schools have been dropping the requirement, deeming them unnecessary to graduate. 

Schools that still require a swim test include Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia, Hamilton, Bryn Mawr, MIT, and Swarthmore. 

Campus Reform contacted every person and university and will update this article accordingly. 

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