SAVE DARTMOUTH SWIMMING & DIVING

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In June 2020, Dartmouth College President Philip J. Hanlon ‘77 addressed faculty, staff, and students in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, stating, “We are in this as a community, and we will get through it as a community.” A mere 3 weeks later, he announced the College’s decision to eliminate 5 varsity sports teams, signaling to approximately 110 student-athletes that our contributions to the Dartmouth community are no longer valued. As members of the newly-cut Swimming & Diving Team, we are angered, insulted, frustrated, hurt, and ashamed of the institution under whose banner we have trained and competed. We are channeling our reactions into action.

In his July 9th email to the community, President Hanlon cited “the institutional imperative to reduce the size of the athletic program” due to budget concerns. However, rather than make lateral spending cuts across all varsity teams, Athletic Director Harry Sheehy chose to eliminate 5 specific programs (men's and women's swimming and diving, men's and women's golf, and men's lightweight rowing). We want to know, what makes some student-athletes worthy of fulfilling their chosen Dartmouth experiences, and others unworthy? With this vertical downsizing approach, we can only speculate which team(s) will be devalued next. 

We understand that the current economic downturn affects everyone, even colleges with sizable endowments (Dartmouth’s is roughly $5.7 billion). What we do not understand is the College’s primary stated rationale for eliminating these 5 teams, per President Hanlon: “Athletic recruitment at Dartmouth has begun to impact our ability to achieve the right balance between applicants who are accomplished in athletics and applicants who excel in other pursuits.”

Like all of our Dartmouth peers, we are well-rounded individuals. Our passions and contributions to the Dartmouth community reach beyond the confines of the pool.  We did not arrive on campus to serve a singular purpose, and we offer more to this school than our athletic achievements alone. As applicants, we were class presidents, National Merit Scholars, Eagle Scouts, and volunteers. As Dartmouth students, we are researchers, double-majors, published authors, and mentors. We are members of faith-based communities, Greek organizations, and a multitude of other campus groups. We teach life-saving swimming skills to children in the Upper Valley. And, yes, we are also record-breakers, Ivy League medalists, Olympic Trial Qualifiers, and NCAA-ranked athletes dedicated to improving in our sport while pursuing a diverse set of interests and goals and maintaining one of the highest team GPAs on campus.

If Dartmouth’s goal is to reduce athletic recruitment in order to promote balance among applicants, the removal of the Dartmouth Swimming & Diving Team was the wrong way to go.

The men and women of the Dartmouth Swimming & Diving Team stand united in the face of the College’s unjust decision. We have trained together, competed together, and learned side by side the rewards of hard work and endurance. If our experience as a multidimensional family of student-athletes has taught us anything, it is to not be deterred by a challenge. This is no exception.  We implore you, our fellow Dartmouth students, family members, friends, and alumni, to join us in the fight to reinstate our team. 

These are the action items we can all take:

1. Sign and share this petition

2. Email these people and express your discontent with their decision:

  • Athletic Director Harry Sheehy: dartmouth.athletics@dartmouth.edu (Be sure to CC: Robert.A.Ceplikas@dartmouth.edu; Kristene.M.Kelly@dartmouth.edu; Jennifer.E.Chuks@dartmouth.edu)
  • President Phil Hanlon: President's.Office@Dartmouth.edu 
  • Dartmouth Board of Trustees: Laura.H.Hercod@dartmouth.edu 

3. Contact members of the Swimming & Diving Team for more suggestions

4. Follow us on Instagram @save_dartmouthswimdive