What's more dangerous? Rugby or a walk in the woods?
At Penn State, the administrators apparently think it's the walk. As Don Hopey writes in The Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
A backpacking trip in the Rothrock State Forest and day hikes in the Laurel Highlands and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia were among the Penn State Outing Club’s 2018 spring term events.
After this weekend, though, the 98-year-old organization has nothing on its calendar, and unless things change, it won’t.
The Outing Club isn’t allowed to go outside anymore.
According to an announcement posted by the club on its Webpage last week, the university will not allow the club to organize and run outdoor, student-led trips starting next semester.
“This is a result,” the announcement said, “of an assessment of risk management by the university that determined that the types of activities in which PSOC engages are above the university’s threshold of acceptable risk for recognized student organizations.”
And in case you missed the point:
“Student safety in any activity is our primary focus,” Lisa Powers, a Penn State University spokeswoman, said in an email response to questions about the school’s assessment.
What seems to have totally freaked out the risk assessors is that the trips are student-led and sometimes out of cell phone coverage.
Of course, that was never a fear until cell phones came along. And then -- this is the key issue with all childhood freedom now -- suddenly NOT being reachable = being in danger.
Same activities for 98 years, but now they're dangerous, because we've lost our minds when it comes to not being able to instantly reach anyone, anytime.
By the way, the treasurer of the Outing Club told Hopey that over the past four years, he hadn't heard of any injuries sustained on club outings.
And as Leslie Demmert, the angry alum who alerted me to this pathetic pickle pointed out in an email:
Students can still play field hockey, rugby, and football at Penn State...but they can no longer enjoy a cave or go scuba diving or even make an outdoor adventure under the guidance of trained student leaders at Penn State. Why? It’s too dangerous to be out of cell phone range. I’m an alumna (‘71, Liberal Arts) and I’m furious that Penn State administration allows indoor activities but has hobbled healthy, outdoor leadership and controlled risk-taking opportunities.
Where are people supposed to learn to try new things if not in college? How will they learn new adventures and outdoor recreation if they aren’t supported?
Penn State wants to be more than a football school. How about they reconsider this shortsighted decision on organizations that have proven themselves to be safe and inexpensive, financially and emotionally, for over half a century? -- Leslie Demmert
Ms. Powers said meetings between the Outing Club’s student leaders and the university are “ongoing” about the club’s future role on campus.
Those talks are focused on the possibility of “forming a different kind of club,” [current club president Richard] Waltz said, one that still holds film festivals and hosts speakers, but can no longer lead students on walks in the woods.
Maybe they can take virtual reality walks in a padded room -- provided there's cell service. - L.