Swim team, SA carry on fight

by Jessica Spradling | 1/7/03 6:00am

Three weeks away from campus has not slowed the momentum of the student movement to save Dartmouth's swimming and diving teams from their proposed elimination.

In December, the swim team created a "Support Dartmouth Aquatics" web site, which advertises its "Dartmouth Invitational Fund Raising Meet" where swimming supporters can "choose a lane" and "dive into the pool" by making monetary donations to the team.

Visitors to the website can also support the team through non-financial channels. They can read news articles about the team's elimination, or write letters to College President James Wright and Dean of the College James Larimore in support of the teams.

Donors can also check the progress of the swim team and see how the team is moving towards it's $212,000 immediate goal -- the amount needed to keep the swim team afloat for another year. As of Sunday evening, the team has raised $180,000 in hard donations through its web site.

Over 100 Dartmouth students from the Class of 1950 to members from the newly admitted Class of 2007 have already pledged money to help the teams survive. Joining them are parents and grandparents of Dartmouth students, swimming supporters and students at various peer schools including Princeton, Columbia and Harvard Universities.

This Friday, Jan. 9, leaders of the Student Assembly and swimming and diving teams will meet with administrators to discuss the propositions presented before the end of the Fall term by Student Body Vice-President Julia Hildreth '04 and Student Life Committee Chair Amit Anand '03.

Student Body President Janos Marton '04 said he had no indication whether the administration would be receptive to the Assembly's proposals.

The Student Assembly has developed several proposals to find a compromise that reinstates the swim team, but does not infringe on the administration's plans to raise money for other projects.

The Assembly is researching several propositions for future funding of the team. Among these is creating a fund through the Development Office that can only accept donations from current Dartmouth students and people not affiliated with the College so that alumni donations will not be diverted from the Capital Campaign. Alternately, the coaching position could be endowed, or the team itself could be partially endowed. The swim team could also be added as one of the priorities of the Capital Campaign.

Included in the Assembly's presentation to administrators was a campus referendum -- held after the 600-student-strong protest in Parkhurst Hall on Dec. 7 -- designed to gauge student support for the decision to eliminate the teams. Of the nearly 2,000 Dartmouth students who responded to the Assembly, 81.8 percent of students opposed the elimination of the swim team while only 6.2 percent supported it.

Additionally, the Assembly reported to administrators that 42 campus organizations ranging from Greek organizations such as the Inter-Fraternity Council to various varsity and club athletic teams including track and field, cross-country and rugby, have announced that they formally oppose the decision to cut the swim team.

The Alumni Council, the body of 100 alumni that represent the nearly 60,000 Dartmouth alumni worldwide, added their voice to the protest against the administration's decision at the end of the fall quarter by calling for the reinstatement of the swimming and diving program.

Endowing teams and coaches is not an idea foreign to Dartmouth or other schools. The Dartmouth sailing team and the head coach of the football team are both endowed. Several other Ivy League institutions have endowed athletic teams or coaches including Cornell's swimming team, whose coach is endowed.