How do you complete four P.E. requirements by the end of sophomore year? For most on campus, it’s a no-brainer: athletics. But for those who do not partake in sports and need to fulfill their requirements in another fashion, it is a legitimate question that has puzzled some minds on campus.
A large percentage of students at the College are involved in some sort of varsity, JV or club sport. These students are set for fulfilling their P.E. requirements, as varsity sports fulfill two to three P.E. credits per season and JV or club sports generally fulfill two credits. The rest of us search for means to get these credits out of our way. It’s not that they are necessarily a hassle; they just happen to be one more responsibility looming over many College students on top of our already large workload. Personally, I found the “cheat sheet” first-year students received in their registration packet quite helpful. It details the different ways of completing the PE requirements and how many credits you can complete depending on the nature of your physical activity. For example, it shows that completion of a P.E. activity class earns one P.E. credit or that students involved in dance ensembles earn two P.E. credits. In addition to the options detailed above, you can also complete one P.E. requirement by regularly participating in Williams Outing Club activities.
What I immediately realized was that we do have a plethora of opportunities for non-athletes. There is at least one activity that will fit into to your schedule. If you are a dancer, you can audition for a dance group, and if you make the cut, you can fulfill one P.E. credit each term by being a member of that group. One student I spoke to, Sofia Benares ’16, a member of the hip-hop dance group Nothin’ But Cuties (NBC) was enjoying fulfilling her P.E. requirement through dancing. “I would have done NBC even if it didn’t fulfill a P.E. requirement,” Benares said. “That’s just an added bonus. I also feel like anyone who is in a sports group or dance team that fulfills a P.E. requirement is in it because they want to be in it and not because it fulfills a requirement.”
In addition, there is a range of options for P.E. classes, and just about everyone I have spoken to who is enrolled in a P.E. class says that the class schedule is accommodating. Each quarter, the College offers over 20 P.E. options, ranging from yoga to rock climbing to trail running to “Farm Fun,” in which students work on local farms for one afternoon a week. Classes are held in a variety of time slots to accommodate as many students’ schedules as possible, and the variety in offerings and intensity of classes also serves to make the classes accessible and beneficial to a wide range of students, whether they are long-time athletes or just starting to think about fitness.
While students are also offered the opportunity to design independent classes that fulfill P.E. requirements in addition to choosing from those offered, students are only eligible for them with the P.E. coordinator’s approval and after three previous P.E. credits have been earned. Some students, however, feel they could benefit from designing their own P.E. classes earlier on in their careers. For instance, Ada Berktay ’16 suggested that a free-swim period would serve as a nice P.E. option for casual swimmers. “I wish I could just get in the water twice a week for a couple hours and have that be my P.E. class,” she said.
Other students, like Niharika Pendurthi ’15, expressed a desire to have the schedule for P.E. classes be slightly more flexible. “I wanted to take [Rape Aggression Defense] (RAD), but I realized that it is three hours on Wednesday evenings and I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just do yoga instead,’” Pendurthi said.
From RAD to yoga to the several dance groups on campus, there seem to be a number of ways to fulfill your P.E. requirement even if you are not an athlete. However, there also seem to be issues with the current system, as noted by the students above. While there are changes that ought to be made to improve the current system, until then, we may have to settle and find a way to fulfill our requirements during the interim – it simply takes a willingness to be flexible and search for options.