Colgate Cuts Phys. Ed. Requirement

Chris Nickels

Starting next fall, students will be required to earn only two Physical Education (PHED) credits to graduate, although stricter limits will be imposed on the courses and activities that will satisfy the requirement.Currently, Colgate requires 32 courses and participation in four six-week PHED classes in order to graduate. As of next fall, however, the number of necessary Physical Education credits will drop to two. “We have broadened the scope of physical education beyond physical activities – even necessarily healthy physical education was no longer physical education; it was an incentive for various self-improvement and life-skills classes,” Chair of the Physical Education and Recreation Department Janet Little said. “We won’t be offering credit anymore for life-skills classes.”Any student who has already taken such a course will still receive credit for it, but credit will not be awarded in the future. This is the only other major change. Club sports will still count toward PHED credit and intramural sports will not count. All students who have taken such courses will still receive credit for the ones that they have taken. Club sports will still count towards PHED credit; however, intramural sports will still not count.The new policy will not affect the Class of 2006, who are still required to complete four PHED credits by the end of the semester. There were several factors involved in the decisions to reduce the number of required PHED credits. One was to allow more freedom in students’ schedules.”It seemed that students are highly programmed on campus, and there was an interest on the part of the administration and faculty to not have so much of the students’ lives programmed and planned out for them,” Little said.Moreover, any student who failed to meet the four-course requirement would not be eligible to receive a diploma.”It didn’t make sense to have students not graduating from an academic institution just because they hadn’t fulfilled their physical education requirement,” Little said. “But there were some people who were in that category.”Little expects her office to be swamped with soon-to-graduating seniors who never managed to take all four PHED classes.”The next month in this office will be not a joyful time,” she said.Colgate is one of the few academic institutions to have retained its PHED requirements. Among the schools in the Patriot League, Colgate and the U.S. Military and Naval Academies are the only ones to have such a requirement. The change was a top-down process and has been long in coming.”There was actually a charge in the Strategic Plan, which was formed a couple of years ago, to sit down and analyze the Physical Education requirements as a part of taking a look at athletics as a whole,” Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Committee on Athletics Ken Belanger said. “We sat down and had some discussion and put together a document that would change the requirements from four courses to two. Then that document that we put together was brought to SGA and discussed there, and then it was brought to the Academic Affairs Board and discussed there.”The change to the Physical Education requirements next fall comes as the second significant and recent change to Colgate’s graduation preconditions. Last year, Colgate abolished its long-standing swim test. However, Little maintains that the University has not decreased its emphasis on health and fitness. “We still feel that there is value in providing a structure that encourages students who might otherwise not choose to be active to explore other forms of sport or activity,” she said.Senior and Chair of the Constitution Revision Committee Drew Lane voiced concern over the new measures, however.”I think a great part about Colgate is the well-rounded student – there are multifaceted interests and strengths of each student,” Lane said. “By having a PHED credit, you are giving them an education in something that is outside the classroom, using something other than your mind. I think the P.E. program here is designed to educate you in other ways other than stimulating your mind. I’m taking squash right now, I worked on my golf game my freshman year, and I played two club sports. I’m really happy because in those classes, you develop friendships in addition to the skills.”