Penn State bans outdoors clubs from going outside

Penn State's Outing Club will no longer be allowed to organize trips into the woods. (Getty Images)

A near-century-old outdoor recreation club will now refrain from going outside because it is too dangerous out in the wilderness, according to officials at Penn State University.

Posted: Apr 24, 2018 11:59 AM

STATE COLLEGE, PA (AP) — A near-century-old outdoor recreation club will now refrain from going outside because it is too dangerous out in the wilderness, according to officials at Penn State University.

The Penn State Outing Club, originally founded in 1920, announced last week that the university will no longer allow the club to organize outdoor, student-led trips starting next semester. The hiking, camping and other outdoors-focused activities the student-led club has long engaged in are too risky, the university's offices of Student Affairs and Risk Management determined.

Richard Waltz, the Outing Club's current president, said that the decision was made by an office that never consulted them.

The decision was based on a two-month review that didn't include consultation with student leaders at any of the clubs deemed too risky, according to students.

Two other outdoor recreation clubs — the spelunking Nittany Grotto Caving Club and the Nittany Divers SCUBA Club — also have been directed to end trip offerings.

"Safety is a legitimate concern, but it wasn't an open dialogue," Waltz said.

Christina Platt, the Outing Club's incoming president, said, "I can hardly blame Penn State for protecting itself against further litigation after a number of high-profile scandals in the past decade."

Student safety is the school's primary focus, university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in a statement.

Penn State conducted a "proactive risk assessment" not based on any previous participant injuries, according to Powers. She said Outing Club activities were rated high risk because they take place in remote environments with poor cell service and distance from emergency services.

Penn State still will offer a university-operated outdoors trip program, Powers said. The university-run program also costs much more for students, Waltz contended.

Michael Lacey, president of the Caving Club, told the Centre Daily Times he's not surprised by the decision but says the university's reasons for ending the club trips don't make sense to him.

There's a difference between going with somebody you paid to take you on a trip and going with a bunch of your friends, Lacey said.

Powers said Penn State staff members are meeting with student leaders about the transition and how the university might still support each group's goals.

Article Comments

Terre Haute
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 71°
Robinson
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 70°
Indianapolis
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 70°
Rockville
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 71°
Casey
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 68°
Brazil
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 71°
Marshall
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 71°
Cooler and nice this afternoon.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Monday: Rainy start, nice and cool finish. High: 78

Image

1 killed in ATV accident

Image

Rail Safety Week

Image

Harvest Safety Alert

Image

Representatives from Taiwan tour Hoosier farm ahead of trade deal

Image

Sunday: Sunny start, Windy. High: 87

Image

Girls Golf Sectionals

Image

EIU vs ISU 9-21-19

Image

13th Annual Bat Festival

Image

Monarch Madness

WTHI Events