Swimming and fitness requirements are, like a set Core curriculum, decidedly uncool and anachronistic. The real argument for the requirements–that human excellence is excellence in mind and body–doesn’t stand a chance when pitted against teenagers who feel that such requirements are onerous or just plain weird.
This week the University got its best evidence yet that its strategy is working. Seventeen year olds like what the University offers and increasingly want to spend a few years in Hyde Park. What they do there, though, is increasingly anyone’s guess. Ten years after the University of Chicago made it possible to hold its bachelors degree without ever examining a page of either Plato or Shakespeare, it now makes it possible to hold its bachelors degree without ever exerting a muscle. Decline is a choice, and the University of Chicago has made its choice.