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Coddled College Students Can’t Leave Cell Phone Zone

Coddled College Students Can’t Leave Cell Phone Zone

Dear God, let this be from The Onion, I thought when I heard the latest news out of State College, PA.

But it wasn’t. 

The administration of Penn State University really has scrapped three popular student outdoor clubs. They're afraid that allowing kids into the wilderness puts them out of cellphone reach and at risk of injury.

Don’t take my word for it. Read this. Definitely not The Onion

A university spokesman confirmed the bizarre decision. The clubs are "losing recognition due to an unacceptable amount of risk to student members that is associated with their activities.”

At the end of this semester the university’s 98-year-old Penn State Outing Club, the 70-year-old Nittany Grotto Caving Club and the Nittany Divers Scuba Club will be abolished, presumably so the students can spend more time indoors binge drinking and playing beer pong. 

So much safer. Not to mention character building.

And no, Penn State has not scrapped its football program. Yet using the university’s own reasoning it's hard to see how the school can continue to allow young men to risk concussions, fractures and paralysis on Saturdays in the fall.

It’s tempting to say that Penn State is an outlier, but if this university decides that hiking through the woods is too perilous for students - most of whom are older than 18 - then won’t other schools follow suit?

If peer schools don’t outlaw wilderness experiences and God forbid, a kid should twist an ankle or break a toe on a mountain climb, couldn’t that reckless institution be at risk of a hefty lawsuit for promoting dangerous outdoor activities?

It’s worth remembering that the Armed Forces have nearly half a million 18-25 year-olds on active duty. These men and women are exposed to far more serious danger than skinned knees or sunburn, yet we expect them to cope with the risks.

Are college students so fragile that they can’t be trusted with backpacks, tents and compasses? 

Frantic club officers sent an email to the administration, urging them to reconsider.

That's me, perched on that rock during my outdoorsy climbing days. So risky. Would have been better off doing body shots and playing beer pong.

That's me, perched on that rock during my outdoorsy climbing days. So risky. Would have been better off doing body shots and playing beer pong.

"What are the long-term risks of NOT spending time outside?” they asked. “We see that many of the leading causes of death in the U.S. are lifestyle diseases resulting from inactive lifestyles and poor diet. As a society it might be time to ask ourselves whether mitigating risk at every turn is actually beneficial to us in the end."

“...Many outdoor professionals will tell you that the riskiest part of a backpacking trip is getting to the trailhead," they added. "Exposure to the discomforts of spending time in the outdoors allows people to develop coping mechanisms that help them to better deal with the stresses of day-to-day life.” 

What twaddle. 

Everyone knows that college students need to spend every minute on campus with a cellphone embedded in their soft little hands. Otherwise they may miss alerts for pizza specials in the campus food court or for  protests against speakers whose ideas make them feel unsafe.


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