Pitzer Outdoor Adventures (POA) held a meeting on Sept. 5 to begin discussing restructuring the club to increase its openness to marginalized groups. POA is a club that gives Pitzer students funding to go on weekend outdoor trips.
For Student Senate Treasurer Harrison Sattley PZ ‘19, POA doesn’t feel like an inclusive community.
“It didn’t really feel welcoming towards minority groups,” Sattley said.
He believes the problem mainly stems from the fact that many students felt POA was dominated by a friend group that tended to go on trips together.
Interim board member Claire Conklin PZ ‘17 said that because POA is given a significant amount of money from Student Senate Budget Committee, it should offer equal experiences to all students.
“We’re all here, and there’s no reason why one student should have more access to that money than another student,” she said.
Pitzer Student Senate’s town hall meeting on Sept. 5 will be the first of many discussions on how to restructure POA to be more inclusive. Conklin and Interim board member Jack Fairbairn PZ ‘18 both believe that the meeting began discussions about how to promote club inclusivity.
“I think [the town hall meeting] was a good start to getting a portion of the community in dialogue of what has been the issue of POA in the past [exclusivity] and just start to brainstorm ways of which POA can change in order to make it an inclusive environment and an actual resource to a wider range of students at Pitzer,” Conklin said.
Several changes were discussed during the event and have been implemented since the meeting. Fairbairn said that to solve POA’s problem of exclusivity, the first step is to promote an open environment.
“A lot of people were really left out [last year], so now we’re trying to outreach so that anyone can come and no one has to feel intimidated or excluded by POA,” he said.
According to Conklin, trip proposals have been changed to include a raffle system, where everyone’s trips will be proposed. That way, “no one gets more priority than the other people because they know the person on the trip,” Conklin said.
Fairbairn added that the club location has been changed from the Grove House to the Gold Student Center Multipurpose Room.
“That was for the idea that that space is like a less informal environment and encourages more of a mindset that we’re here to propose trips as opposed to socialize,” he said. “We’re here for the club and not to hang out with our mates.”
Additionally, Conklin said that POA would be holding an information session about the POA gear closet.
“We’ll start changing POA to be a resource for students—you don’t have to come with prior experience of camping. You’re able to come and learn how to do that,” she said. The first of these events was held Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Outdoor Gear Closet.
Sattley thinks that the changes proposed and implemented by POA are a great first step to change politics of POA, but he believes they fail to acknowledge the club culture.
“While these are good steps, we can’t say ‘Oh, this was a brilliant success’ until the whole culture of the club is changed and when people start to become more sensitive about these sort of issues,” he said. “This will just have to be a gradual process.”
In a larger sense, however, Conklin believes that the issue of exclusivity goes way beyond POA.
“I think there’s a huge issue from the outdoor community in general being very white and exclusive and expensive,” she said. “I think that if we all have this resource of POA, then why not use that to be able to give people who have not had that kind of access [to the outdoors] that access.”
Sattley believes that all clubs on campus are meant to be open to all members of the student body.
“Diversity helps to bring in not only new experiences but also encourage new dialogue and new friendship and I think that’s really important,” he said. “POA’s openness to changing is great and it shows that we recognize diversity as a core value at Pitzer.”
Fairbairn hopes to continue working with groups in the community to open POA up for everyone.
“It is so awesome to work with the kind of people who are doing this and how people continue to contribute and continue to commit their time,” he said. “People are continuously giving up so much of their time to help make this group better.”