No More Outings For Penn State Outing Club
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The Outing Club at Penn State University won't be going out anymore, not even to hear B.J. Leiderman, who writes our theme music. A review by the University found the student club's activities - hiking, backpacking, that kind of thing - to be too risky. Anne Danahy with member station WPSU reports. And quick note - Penn State holds the license for WPSU.
ANNE DANAHY, BYLINE: Junior Christina Platt was just elected president of the Penn State Outing Club. One of her favorite places for a hike is Shingletown Gap, about a 15-minute drive from campus.
CHRISTINA PLATT: There's this gorgeous stream that runs through it. There's tons of rhododendron that just kind of line the trails.
DANAHY: Platt says she's taken more than 25 people on their first backpacking outings. After this year, those trips will be off-limits. The university says it reviewed all 79 student organizations that get support from Campus Recreation. The Penn State Outing Club was one of three with, quote, "an unacceptable level of risk in their current operation model." The other two were the caving and scuba diving clubs.
Groups that weren't shut down include archery, martial arts and the rifle club. In a statement, the university says, quote, "Campus Recreation at Penn State remains focused on providing as many opportunities in the outdoors as possible, while also keeping safety as a priority." The move to tighten the reins on student clubs comes after some high-profile bad publicity for Penn State - the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal and a student death during a fraternity hazing ritual. Christina Platt says the Outing Club takes safety seriously.
PLATT: This past spring, every single trip went out with a Wilderness First Responder certified safety officer, which really is, like - that's the standard of backcountry medical care.
DANAHY: Outgoing club president Richard Waltz says the club's trips make him feel better.
RICHARD WALTZ: The Outing Club and a backpacking trip really takes you away from the pressures and the stresses that university life brings.
DANAHY: And Penn State seems to agree. In its statement, the university says the club can still raise awareness of the importance of getting outdoors.
PLATT: But we can't lead trips. I mean, what is an outing club if we can't go outside?
DANAHY: For now, Christina Platt and others will just have to talk about the wilderness.
For NPR News, I'm Anne Danahy in State College, Penn.
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