‘On the Loose,” an outdoors club at the Claremont Colleges, has canceled its annual Speedo Hike out of concern that it’s not “inclusive” enough to all body types and fitness levels and that it “implies bro-iness,” which is apparently a bad thing.
According to the Claremont Independent, the annual hike up Mount Baldy — during which women generally wore bikinis and men generally wore Speedos — was one of the group’s most popular events. A lot of people really loved it, but it still had to be cancelled. Why?
The statement from OTL’s Facebook page reads:
“By having the Speedo Hike as our official welcome event each year, we unintentionally sent the message that to participate in OTL, you must be fit and comfortable with your body image. The name “Speedo” itself inherently implies bro-iness. OTL is so much more than just that, but many potentially interested students get turned off to our club each year because of Speedo Hike.
We always welcome leaders to organize strenuous trips (especially the goofy half-naked kind), but when we put all of OTL’s institutional weight behind an event, we send a strong message about who is and isn’t welcome on ALL our trips. We are always working to make OTL a more open and inclusive space, which is why this year’s kick-off event was the Potato Mountain Spud Crawl.
First of all, as student and past participant Samuel Breslow pointed out, it’s not like wearing a bathing suit is a requirement for attendance.
“I decided to keep my clothes on (for comfort/in order to lessen the sunburn), and no one ever pressured me in the slightest to take them off,” Breslow wrote in a Facebook post quoted by the Independent.
Now, to be fair, I can understand the club’s concern about making the Speedo Hike the group’s “official welcome event” — seeing as that might give the impression that all of its activities are bathing-suit-centered — but canceling the entire thing is pretty clearly not the only way to solve that problem.
“OTL should strive to serve as many people from as many backgrounds as possible, but this should be an additive process, not a reductive one,” Pomona student Jeremy Snyder told the Independent. “In terms of enabling outdoor experiences, taking the speedo hike off the docket is a net negative.”
“If the hike is canceled, every individual and group that would have opted not to participate will stay on campus that saturday [sic] just the same. The sheer absence of the Speedo Hike will not propel them outdoors, so it is not productive to that end.”
He has a point. After all, isn’t the whole purpose of an outdoors club supposed to be that it gives those students who do like to go outdoors the opportunity to do so? Logically speaking, yes. At the Claremonts, however, basic logic seems to be no match for the blind devotion to social-justice buzzwords that’s sweeping college campuses across the country.
Clarissa Worcester, a staffer at the Outdoor Education Center, said that the hike needed to be canceled because it amounts to “OTL taking out and funding a group of students that is nearly guaranteed to be almost exclusively outdoor-experienced, fit, and heavily swayed in the direction of outdoor — and otherwise — privilege that OTL is trying to work against.”
Yes, that’s right — Worcester is actually saying that she opposes this outdoor club’s event because it’s catered too specifically towards people who do outdoor activities. By her logic, an intramural soccer league hosting a soccer game would also be a problem, and a dance team had better not be caught doing any moves that every single person on campus wouldn’t also be capable of doing.It’s true: Not everyone feels comfortable in a bathing suit, and not everyone can scale a 10,000-foot mountain. But so what? The whole point of having interest-specific clubs is for their members to join together and participate in interest-specific activities. In general, “inclusion” is a good thing. It’s good to be sensitive toward other people, but an outdoors club freaking out that its activities aren’t inclusive enough of people who don’t go outdoors isn’t being sensitive; it’s being insane — and it disturbs me how often people on campuses seem unable to tell the difference.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.
Editor’s Note: This article has been amended since its initial posting.