STATE COLLEGE — The Penn State University Outing Club, a 169-member club focused on hiking, running and backpacking, will no longer be going out because the university believes it is too risky.
The university conducted a risk assessment and determined that the club's activities were too dangerous, though the alpine ski racing, archery and rifle clubs did not receive similar decisions.
"This is a club that has been around for almost a century and nothing in the club's plans for the upcoming year were changed, so obviously something else changed," David Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, told the Pennsylvania Record.
Taylor believes that the reason the Outing Club was ousted is due to the liability issues in the state of Pennsylvania.
"I don't know what else to conclude but the risk because of litigiousness in Pennsylvania. We have a very bad problem with lawsuit abuse, and it affects society in many different ways," Taylor said.
Taylor said that this is a matter of risk aversion. He said that things that were once of no concern are now being deemed too risky because of the risk of being sued. Indeed, even low-risk activities, such as the Outing Club are suffering due to the chance that the school will be sued if an incident were to occur.
"The club has sustained no injuries," he said. "The club members have not been hurt on any Penn State outings. So unless there is something I'm missing, nothing has actually changed in terms of the risk being experienced by Outing Club members.
"But actually it's the tolerance risk that has changed on the part of the university, just out of a fear of being sued."
Taylor is unsure as to whether the club will be able to continue operating in light of the recent decision, and concluded explaining that to try to completely avoid injuries and risk is an unrealistic expectation in life.
"We bubble-wrap our lives," he said. "We try to live a nerf or whiffle existence, trying to eliminate all risk. Ultimately, people need to be responsible for their own actions, and we can't live in a world where nothing bad will never happen."