Barnard Fights For its Last Pool Party

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What we imagine the pool in Barnard Hall’s basement to look like

So there’s a pool in the basement of Barnard Hall (it’s okay, Bwog had no idea either), and its time is running out. Spec reported last spring that the pool is slated to be shut down at the end of this academic year, and, despite some pretty fervent adversaries, the plan seems to be running full steam ahead.

Initially announced after Barnard cut their P.E. requirement from two semesters to one, also last spring, the initial motivation for closing the pool appeared to be financial; Chief Operating Officer Greg Brown told Spec that “The pool has considerable deferred maintenance issues, and we estimate that in order to keep the pool and the surrounding area properly maintained and safe, it would cost the College approximately $3 million.” Following a series of well-known policy changes on campus, especially the College’s announced budget cuts, resistance to the pool’s closing focused on the symbolic importance of the pool on campus despite its limitations.

This year’s publication of the College’s upcoming capital campaign reveals, however, that the most valuable asset of the pool to its campus is its depth (literally). President Spar told SGA in October that the pool is “the only swing space we have on campus to house virtually all of the functions of Lehman Hall,” and Lehman Hall, as we know it, seems to have an expiration date as well; following a decision in December the Board of Trustees plans to overhaul renovation of the space, and Barnard is pressed for space to compensate (maybe they could try the 92nd St. Y?).

Opponents of the pool closing have a lot of bones to pick with the decision, but the most resonant seems to be the elimination of the only venue that holds women’s only swimming hours on campus. Spar told SGA two weeks ago at SGA that Vivian Taylor, Vice President for Community Development, and Chief of Staff was “looking at every option in the City that will do women’s only swimming, and also looking at other venues.” Mel Meder, BC ’14 and co-organizer of the campaign that launched in mid-September writes to Bwog:

I got involved because I learned to swim in the Barnard pool, as it was designed specifically for teaching, so it provided a safe facility for me to learn and push myself on my own. So far, we’ve been working on raising awareness about the pool’s integral role as a teaching pool for beginning swimmers, a facility for not jus students but also employees and alumnae, a convenient swimming option with women-only hours for women with religious or other concerns, and a more accessible pool than Uris for anyone with physical challenges. 

The group has had about four meetings so far, and plan to launch a petition soon. Those looking to get involved in the efforts should visit the group’s site here.

Hidden paradise via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Anonymous  

    Wait we should have pool parties...

  2. beginner swimmer  

    The beginner swimmer argument is serious. All Columbia beginning swimming classes are held in Barnard pool. I have no idea how everyone would learn in Columbia's pool, as it lacks a shallow (<5ft) end. If Barnard pool were no longer available, Columbia would either have to come up with a comparable alternative, or reevaluate its swimming requirement.

  3. Anonymous

    I think they are getting gouged by the pool maintainence people. It should not cost three million dollars a year to maintain an indoor pool. Unions at work.

  4. pragmatist  

    I can understand people who are upset that the pool is going to close, but honestly, u can't protest everything. If they don't close the pool, other, more important things will suffer, like housing, professors/admin staff employment, tuition increases, etc. Barnard is already deep in debt, so clearly it's impossible to carry on they way they've been.

  5. pragmatist  

    (lol, "deep" in debt...)

  6. Van Owen

    Nine ways of whoring...minus the pool.

  7. Anonymous

    Everyone can now go to swim in the Hudson River. No child will be left behind.

    Will a donor comes up to save the pool?

  8. Anonymous  

    Why exactly do you need women's only swimming? I thought we left the 50's 60 years ago...

    • wow  

      Women whose religious views on clothing preclude them from swimming in co-ed environments still deserve to have access to pool exercise.

      Also men and women totally swam together during the 1950s.

  9. I don’t have much to say but this pool deserves to be saved and I think it appropriate…

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