Penn State Shuts Down 'Outing Club' After Deciding Going Outdoors Is 'Too Risky' For Students

The club was designed to help students “experience the outdoors in every possible capacity”

National Parks Service/Public Domain

Penn State University has shut down a 98-year-old "Outing Club" after school administrators deemed the group, which enjoys hiking, backpacking, and kayaking, "too risky" for its student body.

According to Reason Magazine and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Penn State undertook a "risk assessment" of all its student clubs earlier this year, and deemed the Outing Club — and outdoor recreation, in general — simply too dangerous. The "caving club" and the Nittany SCUBA club were also disbanded over similar concerns.

"This is a result,” an official announcement read, “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.”

"Student safety in any activity is our primary focus," a spokeswoman told local media.

It seems the problem with the Outing Club was that it occasionally enjoyed the outdoors, and some students hiked, biked, and canoed beyond the reach of cell phone towers, which put them at risk of being disconnected from classmates and the rest of the world for short periods of time, even though that might be the entire point of an outdoors club.

The club itself seemed shocked by the decision, telling Reason that members "hadn't heard of any injuries sustained on club outings in recent years." Alumni who contacted the magazine noted that, while the Outing Club was disbanded, team rugby — one of the school's more dangerous sports — is still on the list of available extracurricular activities, as are "Archery Club, Boxing Club, Alpine Ski Racing Club and Rifle Club."

The Penn State Outing Club and Penn State administration are in "ongoing" negotiations about how the club will move forward. Penn administration says "staff members from the Campus Recreation, Risk Management and Student Activities offices have met with the Outing Club’s faculty adviser and student leaders during the past 15 months about safety concerns related to the club’s activities and practices, and 'how those activities can be more safely pursued.'"

The group's top suggestion? Reformat as a film club.

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