Dartmouth Outing Club makes strides to increase diversity and inclusiveness
Since the Class of 2022 arrived on campus four years ago, DOC has undergone various changes in hopes of becoming a more welcoming and equitable organization.
| 06/12/22 05:15
This article is featured in the special issue Commencement & Reunions 2022.
Over the past four years, the Dartmouth Outing Club has undergone many changes to promote diversity, including creating and expanding its Diversity, Inclusion, Justice and Equity sub-club, renaming one of its sub-clubs to people with marginalized gender identities and organizing more discussions on ways to improve club culture.
According to the DIJE newsletter, the club is committed to tackling the “structural and cultural barriers to inclusion that plague the DOC” to make the Outing Club “welcoming and accessible to all”. The sub-club was founded by former Ledyard Canoe Club President Gab Smith ’22 in the summer of 2020. Smith said she started DIJE to help diversify DOC.
“Because I had a management position, I thought it would be a good time to [start DIJE] – especially because that’s when all the [Black Lives Matter] demonstrations were taking place and everyone was worried [COVID-19], so people were more receptive to change,” Smith said. “I had a lot of support”
Smith said that prior to DIJE’s inception, the DOC hosted a quarterly diversity and inclusion discussion for the entire club, although she noticed Greek houses and other social spaces were paying attention. to the issue of diversity and inclusion throughout the year. She said these factors inspired her to contact the DOC president at the time, other DOC officers, and the deputy director of the Office of Outdoor Programs Rory Gawler about the idea, which helped secure resources and spread the word to the larger DOC community about DIJE.
In addition to increasing the diversity of the DOC, Smith also wanted to make the student organization more inclusive for people who lacked outdoor experience.
“I came in first grade and didn’t have a lot of outdoor experience, so I wanted people who didn’t have that experience to feel welcome by having outdoor activities that they could. enjoy,” Smith said.
According to DOC President Abigail Johnson ’23, DIJE meetings are open to everyone. Johnson said typical DIJE meetings consist of group conversations in which everyone can address concerns about diversity, inclusion, justice and equity within the DOC.
Johnson said DIJE’s project groups work on ongoing initiatives during each term. A project group is working on planning a quarterly event focused on diversity and inclusion in DOC or the outdoors in general. There is also a newsletter team, which creates the quarterly newsletter that highlights events, students, and outside media to share with students and alumni.
Over the past two years, DIJE has also been working on a demographic survey to determine how many students are involved in DOC, Johnson said.
Former DOC President Abby Wiseman ’22 said DIJE is working with all DOC subclubs to address relevant concerns.
“They do a really good job of reaching out and working with specific sub-clubs to identify the challenges that those sub-clubs are facing – whether it’s a higher barrier to entry or a tight-knit community, which is great but doesn’t really lend itself to new people getting involved,” Wiseman said.
In May 2021, the Women in the Wilderness sub-club also changed its name to Viva Harding Outdoors Club (VHOC) to become a more inclusive space for people of all marginalized gender identities.
“We’re just trying to get more people involved in a space where they feel safe…I think subclubs in general have become more receptive to diversity and excited to do that,” Smith said. .
Ledyard vice president Jordan Paff ’23 said she joined DOC in her fall freshman year, but she didn’t think the climate was welcoming.
“The president and vice president were both male, and I felt like the space was very male-dominated, which made Ledyard a little less accessible,” Paff said.
Paff added that since Smith launched DIJE, she has been inspired to support women and people of color through her leadership role in Ledyard.
“The efforts of [Smith’s] the presidency was really about bringing women and people of color into the paddle, and I sort of picked up the slack with that. Obviously, as a white person, a lot of my experiences apply more to women, rather than focusing on women of color,” Paff said. “However, I have focused on those two aspects in terms of how I run my councils, which has been a big priority of my tenure as vice president thus far.”
Ledyard has representatives from its sub-club attending DIJE events to speak on Ledyard’s behalf, according to Paff. Ledyard also organizes its own events focused on diversity and inclusion, such as Conservation on Tap. The event takes place once a quarter at One Wheelock in the Collis Center for Student Involvement and features films about river conservation projections, which often coincide with the preservation of indigenous lands where indigenous cultures once thrived.
Paff said she sees the changing culture at DOC reflected in the increase in the number of active female members at Ledyard of the Class of 2025 — a dramatic shift from her freshman year at Ledyard, in which there were mostly male members.
From April 13-19, DOC held its first-ever “All Outside” conference with the goal of making the outdoors more accessible and inclusive, gathering an attendance of approximately 90 people. The conference included panels, beginner outdoor skills sessions, workshops, beginner outdoor outings and more.
The DOC has also increased socio-economic diversity by changing guidelines for funding break trips and individual outings, such as allocating a certain amount of money for food for each person on the trip. Smith said the adjustment is to ensure more people can get into the outdoors without finances being a barrier.
However, Smith added that subclub members also need to take initiative when it comes to further increasing diversity and inclusion within DOC.
“It’s important to remember that just because there’s a diversity and inclusion divide doesn’t mean people can’t get the job done on an individual level or within their respective clubs,” he said. she stated.