At 9 pm tomorrow night, WKCR is broadcasting the first part of This Columbia Life, a two-hour radio show created by Emily Kwong and Anneke Gronke, both CC ’12. Emily and Anneke recorded various Columbia students as they talked about or performed arts pieces about their experiences at Columbia. But now the interviewers have become the interviewees. Ira Glass-wannabe Peter Sterne recorded this interview with them in WKCR’s studios.
Welcome back to Ask Bwog, where we try to find the answers to Columbia’s persistent questions.
Anyone who has graduated from Columbia in the last 60 years can tell you that to earn a B.A. degree, you must either swim 75 m (three lengths of the pool) or take the beginner’s swimming PE class. The younger graduates can also tell you that SEAS students, strangely, do not share this ritual. Columbia legend offers a logical explanation: if one day Manhattan sinks, CC students would have to swim across the Hudson, but SEAS students could use their engineering skills to build a boat.
As likely as this theory sounds, this bizarre division between CC and SEAS only came about less than two decades ago, as a result of a combination of misunderstandings, journalistic errors, Columbian bureaucracy, sketchy decision-making and a healthy amount of bitterness.
On September 5, 1991, the Spectator published an article titled “Swim test dropped as requirement.” Kathryn Yatrakis, then the Associate Dean of Columbia College, was quoted saying, “The Columbia College Committee On Instruction (COI) has agreed in principle to eliminate the swim test from the list of degree requirements effective immediately.” This article announced, “As of now, all Columbia College students will be free from the requirement. Students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are still expected to swim, but the requirement is being review [sic].” (more…)