More than a dozen Asian student-athletes signed a letter earlier this week complaining that the cutting of five sports by Dartmouth College this summer target sports popular with Asians, noting that the 30 Asian athletes affected by the cuts represent half of all Asian student-athletes at the school.
As reported by The Associated Press, Dartmouth announced in July that it was discontinuing men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s golf, and men’s lightweight rowing. The college said the cuts would help address a projected $150 million financial deficit due to the coronavirus and allow for more flexibility in admissions.
But the letter's signees sense there's more behind the decision. They want the Board of Trustees to do an independent investigation into the process that led to the cuts.
“To ensure a fair process, the Athletic Department should publicly release any and all analysis, research, metrics, internal correspondence, or findings of fact that went into this decision,” the letter said. “The administration owes the Dartmouth community, at the very least, the level of transparency widely employed by state and federal regulatory agencies with regard to similar decision-making processes.”
Several students who signed the letter said it has them questioning whether they are valued at Dartmouth.
“It indirectly sends the message to current athletes that they less valued than non-Asian athletes and deters Asian athletes in the future from competing for Dartmouth,” said Tim Park, who signed the letter as a member of the swim team. Park said he is considering transferring.
Dartmouth spokesperson Diana Lawrence said the board had received the letter and is "carefully considering it.”
Along with the letter, the athletes and their families formed, Save Dartmouth Swim & Dive, demanding the college find other ways to address its budget shortfall. They claim they have heard from the larger alumni community willing to withhold donations in the wake of the cuts.
“This decision to cut these athletic programs is a threat to the integrity, diversity, and inclusiveness of the entire Dartmouth community,” the group said on its website. “And they will have national implications, setting a precedent for athletic programs at other institutions to limit opportunities for people from marginalized and underrepresented groups.”
Dartmouth's Office of Institutional Diversity and the Athletic Department dismissed their claim.