OTL, Outdoor Club Cancels Speedo Hike to Increase Inclusivity

On The Loose (OTL), the outdoors club of the Claremont Colleges, hosted its inaugural event, a hike up Potato Mountain aptly named the "Spud Crawl," on Saturday, Sept. 17.

"When the OTL Staff … get together and put institutional weight behind an event, it sends a message that that’s what our club is about," Eli Cohen PO ’19, the President of OTL, said.

Trips led by the staff are aimed to be inclusive to everyone.

This first annual “Spud Crawl" was the replacement for the once-beloved “Speedo Hike,” during which students hiked 10-plus miles up Mount Baldy clad in nothing but bathing suits.

Although OTL is a 5C club and open to any member of the Claremont Colleges, because of the strenuous nature and the minimal attire of the "Speedo Hike," some students raised concerns that people less comfortable with either their outdoor experience or dressing in only a swimsuit might feel unwelcome in the OTL community, said Cohen.

“If you’re someone that is not comfortable in your body, or has specific religious dressing practices, anything like that, it’s just like, ‘Oh, this isn’t the event for me,'" Clarissa Worcester PO ’19, who works at the Outdoor Education Center (OEC) and attends some OTL events, said.

Although it is not required to wear a swimsuit on the hike, Worcester brought up the concern that someone may be discouraged by the title of the hike and not realize that the Speedo part is optional.   

However, some students expressed disappointment about the cancellation of the Speedo Hike, which was seen as a fun tradition for many at the 5Cs. Jeremy Snyder PO ’19, a trip leader and member of OTL, said that the Speedo Hike was “far and away one of the best experiences freshman year” for him.

In previous years, at least 100 went on the Speedo Hike each year and, partially due to the odd tradition of wearing speedos, the participants were able to bond on the trip, said Snyder.

Sam Rubin, PO ’19, a trip leader and member of OTL, said that although he really enjoyed attending the hike last year and it was a great way to meet people, he could also understand why concerns were raised over the event.

Although he supported removing the Speedo Hike from the first event slot, “just cancelling it, on these concerns of body image, without providing any replacement, has made the press overwhelmingly negative” said Snyder, referring to a Claremont Independent article and Fox News article, both of which derided the decision to cancel the Speedo Hike.

However, there remains the option for a student leader to lead the Speedo Hike. Rubin said that he thinks “there is a chance someone will [lead it], but it’ll take a lot on their part” because of the event’s size and previous popularity.

Worcester applauded the decision to cancel the Speedo Hike, especially given that OTL has recently been striving to improve inclusivity.

"The first event being really strenuous and one basically without clothes on put a lot of people off,” Worcester said.

Cohen said that people were welcome to go climb Baldy in a Speedo, but that the OTL staff wanted to be sure that the events they organized were inclusive to everyone.

“OTL wants to encourage a wide variety of ways to get outdoors," Cohen said.