The Barnard College administration plans to close the Barnard swimming pool at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year. The Barnard pool is an essential swimming venue for members of the Barnard and Columbia community and the only teaching pool available, as well. The design of this shallow teaching pool gives several Barnard and Columbia undergraduates classes the opportunity to learn to swim each semester.
Many community members use the pool to increase their comfort with swimming. The Barnard pool offers beginning swimmers an optimal learning experience with greater privacy and a safer depth than is afforded by the Uris Pool at Columbia's Dodge Fitness Center. In addition, it serves people with physical challenges or disabilities who may not be able to do other exercises, and who may not be able to enter the Uris Pool: the Barnard pool is the only exercise option available to them.
The pool also offers members of the Barnard and Columbia community women-only hours to swim that they need either due to religious restrictions or other considerations. These hours are currently only offered at the Barnard pool and there are no plans to hold women-only hours at Uris Pool.
By closing the pool, the Barnard administration is giving a higher priority to its need for potential office space and its need to reduce expenditures than to the community’s need for wellness. If the Barnard administration closes the swimming pool, everyone using the pool (students, staff and faculty, alumnae, and community members such as children's swim participants) would either lose access to a pool entirely or be forced to utilize the Uris Pool, which is not only overcrowded, but also inaccessible and unsuitable in many cases.
For these reasons, we, concerned members of the Barnard and Columbia community, implore the Barnard administration to keep the pool open. We believe that there must be another way to cope with the challenges that Barnard is facing besides a short-sighted decision that negatively impacts a diverse and vibrant community.
We also ask to become a part of the process to find creative solutions. We hope that by working together in a spirit of collaboration and community, we can successfully address the challenges at hand and keep the pool open.