Founded in 1920, Penn State University’s Outing Club (PSOC) has offered students an affordable chance of experiencing outdoor adventure trips for almost a century. But that opportunity will come to an end this semester after the student-led organization was notified earlier this month by the university that they were no longer allowed to lead outdoor adventures, reports Adventure Sports Network.
“This is a result 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,” the PSOC announced on their website.
The Outing Club’s treasurer Timothy Hackett said he was not aware of a single injury on any outing during the four years he has been at PSU. He also said the PSOC has not seen this risk assessment report and was not consulted at any point during the two-month review by the university.
“Safety is a legitimate concern, but it wasn’t an open dialogue,” 2017-2018 Outing Club President Richard Waltz told the Post-Gazette. “What’s happening to the club is a shame and negatively impacts the student experience.”
Partaking in activities like hiking, canoeing, kayaking, trail building and camping certainly comes with an inherent degree of risk. So do the activities of the Nittany Grotto Caving Club and the Nittany Divers SCUBA Club, which were given the same fate as PSOC during the reviews of all 79 campus recreation-supported student groups. But groups that passed include the Archery Club, Boxing Club, Alpine Ski Racing Club and Rifle Club.
“Student safety in any activity is our primary focus,” Penn State University spokeswoman Lisa Powers told the Post-Gazette in an email.
After being informed of the decision, PSOC launched an online survey concerning the matter. They also received plenty of support from commenters, many of whom are past PSOC members.
The club currently claims 169 members, but their Facebook group boasts over 1,800 members, many of whom are alumni members. They are currently exploring all possibilities for the club in the future. Their ability to lead trips remains up in the air, but hopefully, they can continue to serve the community they’ve created for the last 98 years.