Safety

Penn State Lets Students Keep Their Scuba Club, But Only After They Swear Never to Host Scuba Trips Again

Club leader tells Reason, "We have an impeccable safety track record."

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Scuba
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No one at Pennsylvania State University has ever drowned on a scuba-diving trip, so why does the school suddenly think the activity is too dangerous?

Penn State recently decreed that three student-led outdoor adventure groups—the hiking club, the cave exploration club, and the scuba club—would have to disband due to safety liability concerns, even though none of the long-running clubs had ever reported a problem. Reason's Lenore Skenazy bemoaned this joy-killing paranoia in a recent post here at Hit & Run.

Now the scuba club has been granted a reprieve—but with a significant caveat: Nittany Divers Scuba is no longer allowed to organize scuba-diving trips.

"We will just serve as a special interest organization for scuba divers and people interested in scuba diving," group leader Alex Pulice tells Reason.

Members of the club will still be able to discuss and celebrate scuba, according to an announcement on the Nittany Divers' Facebook page. But they can never act on their feelings in any official, formal capacity.

Pulice tells me that Penn State's recreation department has promised to organize scuba trips on behalf of interested students. These trips would happen under administrative supervision.

It's tough to understand why exactly Penn State needs to take on the responsibility of chaperoning its scuba divers. A Penn State spokesperson claims that certain outdoor activities exceed the university's "acceptable risk threshold," partly because they take place in areas of poor cell phone coverage, where it would be difficult to contact emergency services. Obviously, you can't use a phone underwater.

But Pulice tells me that the Nittany Divers club has existed for 50 years and has never had a safety issue.

"We have an impeccable safety track record," he says.

The other two "risky" groups—the Outing Club and Grotto Caving Club—have been around even longer: 98 years and 70 years, respectively. Caving Club President Michael Lacey tells the Centre Daily Times that even if the outdoor trips continue under university direction, "It definitely loses a little bit of the adventure aspect."

I can easily imagine these trips losing some of their excitement and appeal after the administration has stripped away the students' autonomy. That would be a terrible shame: Spending time outdoors is normal and healthy. There are certainly worse—and far riskier—ways for Penn State students to spend their weekends.

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  1. But they can never act on their feelings in any official, formal capacity.

    As subtle as an X-Men comic. I like it.

    1. But will they still be making field trips to Sandusky?

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    2. Penn State must stop allowing students on campus. Since more students have died on campus during the existence of the SCUBA club than have died SCUBA diving with the club, the campus is simply too dangerous. The Penn State campus poses an “unacceptable risk”.

    3. Because going to do something is just acting on your feelings.

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  2. http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/a…..-1.3898118

    When is Canada going to get serious about Van control? Horrible tragedy for sure. And further evidence as if any were needed, guns are not the only or even in many cases the most effective way to commit mass murder.

    1. what a person could do with a militarized snow plow. that said we should limit van gas tank size to 1 gallon and tire size so small that they can’t get over a sidewalk curb

      1. OMG…large capacity Zambonis?

  3. “Members of the club will still be able to discuss and celebrate scuba, according to an announcement on the Nittany Divers’ Facebook page. But they can never act on their feelings in any official, formal capacity.”

    This is Orwellian.

    1. Actually, I think it’s just pitiful and too stupid for words…

      1. The first part is correct but you got the second part wrong since they did find the words.

  4. As I commented on the last post about this, it is all about Penn State’s Adventure Recreation office charging students money for trips that they used to do for free. The Scuba Club had a sizable endowment and could pay for trips for their members. Now the members must pay Penn State.

    1. You know who else had a sizeable endowment?

      1. The Hedgehog?

      2. No one in the “Ivy League” ever…

      3. Lex Steele?

    2. That’s it. It’s perfectly understandable: They’ve identified a profit center, and they don’t want any competition.

  5. There are certainly worse?and far riskier?ways for Penn State students to spend their weekends.

    Sick burn, Rico. Sick.

    1. Again, field trip to Sandusky?

  6. Isn’t any club that drives in a car to the event that they’re participating in doing a far more risky thing than anything they are likely to do once they get there?

    1. Yep. Possibly excluding the Whiskey Chugging And Lawn Darts Club.

    2. Penn State has already shut down events on that exact line of reasoning. Students used to drive all over PA and farther to raise money for pediatric cancer research, and PSU shut down those trips after a auto few accidents.

  7. There are some administrators who are *quite* pleased with themselves that they’re now doing solid “risk management” after their recent hazing death and trail of abused children.

    They’re probably middle-of-the-class Penn State grads (B+ GPA these days?), which puts the whole thing in perspective.

  8. There are some administrators who are *quite* pleased with themselves that they’re now doing solid “risk management” after their recent hazing death and trail of abused children.

    They’re probably middle-of-the-class Penn State grads (B+ GPA these days?), which puts the whole thing in perspective.

  9. Are you for scuba?

    1. It’s too self contained for Penn State’s administrators. They prefer the Communal Underwater Breathing Apparatus.

  10. Members of the club will still be able to discuss and celebrate scuba

    So, just like we discuss and celebrate “diversity”?

    1. Aren’t the words “university” and “diversity” antithetical?

  11. Alex Pulice

    You can’t fool *me*, Robby. That’s from The Onion!

  12. Members of the club will still be able to discuss and celebrate Scooby, according to an announcement on the Nittany Meddling Kids’ Facebook page. But they can never act on their feelings in any official, formal capacity.

    1. Ruh roh Raggy…

  13. “WE ARE”



    “FUCKING PATHETIC!”

  14. As someone who ran a very large SCUBA club at a very large university in Florida, PSU can go eat a bag of dicks.

    1. not to mention being actually near water….

  15. As I asked in the other article, why are these clubs under the purview of the university in the first place? Okay, history I guess. But that doesn’t mean they should be there.

    Yes, the decision was risk-phobic and short-sighted but there is also a strong argument that maybe universities should focus on academics – the things they are supposed to be good at. If you want to do high adventure things, look up the local Venture Crew. There are several near campus. Or start your own. It is not reasonable to expect one institution to be everything for you.

    1. I am guessing that the university gives them money from the student fees.

  16. “Penn State recently decreed that three student-led outdoor adventure groups?the hiking club, the cave exploration club, and the scuba club?would have to disband due to safety liability concerns, even though none of the long-running clubs had ever reported a problem. “

    It reads like a simple insurance issue.

    If the school sponsors the club, they can be sued for it–and their insurance company has probably come along and said they won’t cover them for that anymore without paying higher premiums.

    That school itself wouldn’t have needed to get sued recently. The school and its insurance company are presumably smart enough to see what’s happened to others in similar situations.

    It looks like they’re telling the club to go get their own insurance and do it in a way that the school and its insurance company can’t be sued when someone gets hurt or killed, which seems to be . . . entirely reasonable.

    1. More of an reason for tort reform than anything.

      1. Tort reform would also greatly lower the cost of health care.

  17. Yes, the decision was risk-phobic and short-sighted but there is also a strong argument that maybe universities should focus on academics

    Sorry, education is no longer allowed to occur at universities. Learning facts might hurt their little snowflake sensibilities.

  18. I tried to go online to find out about the Penn State Cycling Club. There’s a page for it, but the most recent posts are from 2017. Are the Nittany Lions lamb-like? Did somebody turn them all sheepish? After their late coach’s death, have they become too “Paterno-listic.”

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  20. This is an obvious ploy by the Role Playing Game industry to sell more product.

    Dive to the depths of adventure with GURPS S.C.U.B.A.!

    Bob, roll a d20.
    I rolled a 5
    Oh, I’m sorry. It looks like you’ve got nitrogen narcosis. Your cell phone’s back on shore and your dive buddy was eaten by the mutant narwhal. Good thing this is just a game.

    1. I’ve been narc’d. Good times.
      Mutant narwhal. Better times.

      1. Narcosis starts at about 90 feet for me. But it’s rather mild, and it actually took me a number of dives to even start to recognize it was happening. The colder the water the more I notice it, mainly because that’s the depth where the sense of discomfort dissipates. I’d compare it to a martini or two on an empty stomach, doesn’t make me sloppy stupid, but I’m not razor sharp either.

        If I dove more, or consistently dove at depth I’d definitely get mixed gas certified.

  21. So what would PSU do if club members started going on diving trips together without official club sponsorship? Or if they formed another club — one not affiliated with the university — to sponsor the diving trips?

    1. Admins heads would implode and there would be a Title IX investigation. No reason for the investigation other than it seems to be the investigation du jour.

  22. Another scalp is taken by an over litigious society. Preemptively removing liability in the expectation the university would be sued if a 21yr old stubs his toe. Sorry, I don’t fault Penn State. I wouldn’t plan a retreat for my company that involved SCUBA diving. Or a three-legged potato sack race for that matter.

  23. One wonders f this is just the Lawyers trying to protect the University or the LIBTARDS trying to control people lives again…

    1. Tuh-may-toe; tuh-mah-toe

  24. Scuba-duba-DON’T

  25. Funny, Penn State seems to have no problem supporting an activities explicitly tied to such risks as broken bones, torn ligaments and traumatic brain injuries but no actual injuries are apparently a bridge too far for them.

    1. You forgot to mention the child rape.

  26. I find this whole episode appalling. I was Vice Chairman of the Nittany Grotto caving club (essentially the highest student officer) in the early 80’s and find this risk adverse action of an institution that I used to be proud of to be bureaucratic and cowardly. Some of my fondest memories of college years were with my fellow cavers. We were not macho risk takers back then.( In fact we had a very sizable group of gay cavers in our group that opened my eyes to that community) and I suspect the same applies today. I love snorkeling and Scuba as well and safety is always the first concern. Why was this not a problem when we didn’t have GPS and cell phones back then.

    1. Can the various auto clubs be far behind? I almost certain that, from a statistical standpoint, cars are the number one killer of PSU students.

    2. 80s. ‘nough said.

      Welcome to the world run by insurance companies.

  27. So how long until they figure out that men and women (and anything else the have on campus) drinking is pretty dangerous? (see title ix cases filed in the last year for an approximate danger index)

    Back to the fifties for you!
    Curfews, separate dorms, hall monitors, room inspections for booze, all the good stuff brought back to life.

    1. Some risks are more acceptable than others.

      Or to put it another way, addressing the risks of drinking and drunken hookups runs the risk of angry demonstrators calling you a sexist.

      Banning outdoor activity clubs may make them angry, but they won’t hold disruptive demonstrations and scream “sexist” and “racist” until they get hoarse.

      Or I don’t think so anyway.

  28. But the various homosexual clubs are not restricted, despite the risk of AIDS and other STD’s that go hand in hand with this sort of lifestyle. In fact, the university promotes homosexual lifestyles, despite their mental health and physical health risks.

    America – It was fun while it lasted.

  29. But the various homosexual clubs are not restricted, despite the risk of AIDS and other STD’s that go hand in hand with this sort of lifestyle. In fact, the university promotes homosexual lifestyles, despite their mental health and physical health risks.

    America – It was fun while it lasted.

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  31. What about the PSU Antifa group?

    Aren’t they a group whose express purpose is confronting fascists? Wouldn’t that mean routinely placing themselves in danger of violence?

    Sounds like a huge liability. Best put and end to it.

  32. I personally would never go on an outing without the Title IX Adminstrator tagging along.

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