I hear it's a problem too. At least it was for my parents. But its not something I ever notice in the way most people mean. The only real divide I feel is in terms of scheduling. Basically, athletes have a different schedule because they have practice. Because they also normally end practice at odd times, they may eat together. But that's the only divide on campus. I think of sports as more of a passion that Williams as a community has and that most students are interested in. But parties/social events are inclusive, so I think that your concern is one of a Williams past or one of people who are not as familiar with the normal goings-on of current students. Ultimately, the answer to your question is no, I haven't experienced it to any extent - I actually don't believe there is a divide - and the vast majority of my friends here don't believe it exists either.
It's talked about, but doesn't really exist outside of the newspaper. The entry system does a really good job ensuring freshmen are exposed to many groups, and there are few sports considered "cliquey."
I dont think there is such a problem at all. One thing you'll notice is that there is no such thing as a "dumb jock" at Williams...in fact a majority of the students on campus are athletic to some extent. I'm guessing there might have been some housing issues in the past with athlete vs. non-athlete polarization in the upperclass dorms, but that's not really a problem with the neighborhood system. Many athletes will eat meals with their team/club, but its only natural for those social groups to form. I have heard this rumor about athletics a lot, but interestingly it is always from someone who hasnt been on campus recently.
There certainly isn't a "wall" between athletes and non-athletes, but the athlete culture is dominant and can lead (in addition to the geographic setting) to a sense of social isolation for some students not actively involved in either team sports or the theater. The academics are stellar, however, and most of the athletes are very bright and talented students.
My S, Williams '11, did not feel any divide at all, nor did he feel that the athlete culture was dominant. He never met a sport he liked to play, though he is fit. He enjoyed cheering on his friends and attending sports events. He was involved with music and theater and never felt any separation from his athlete friends or out in any kind of social isolation. The entry system and the Woolf trips are great to get everyone to have friends and on the same page. I know it doesn't work for all, but it does for most.
Athletics at Williams, now that's pretty funny. An athletic versus non athletic culture is an issue? Williams is Division what? If athletics are an issue, too many folks have too much time on their hands.
^^ that it is D3 -- what is your point? In fact unlike the so-called powerhouse universities the OP was asking about the culture where such a high percentage of the student population are athletes (and damn good ones-- they lost the Director's Cup for the first time in 14 years (3rd place)) In the powerhouses such as ND or Mich, athletes are ghettoized with their own dorms. dining halls and even study halls-- at Williams they are integrated and the OP wondered that since it isn't a small minority isolated if that meant for those who aren't athletes in such an athletically based college culture that they would be marginalized. As the later posters noted ---no, although bc of schedules and common interests it is to be expected that some of the athletes are more friendly with other athletes than non athletes just as drama kids, artists or newspaper students hang out together as well...There is nothing wrong with that. It is an accepting campus and everyone will find his or her niche that is right for that person.