Opinion

Club Presidents: Travel Policy is Detrimental

Blair Shevlin
Ultimate Frisbee President

Oliver Wilkinson
Ultimate Frisbee Captain

Rebecca Hazany
Goucher Hiking Society President

Chelsea Spitzer Morton
Pitchin’ Tents President

 

In an unprecedented move, the Associate Dean for Student Engagement, Emily Perl, along with the Legal Counsel, have put into place policies that will significantly affect the way student clubs can function. These policies, affecting clubs traveling outside of 250 miles from Goucher for an overnight trip, state that students are not permitted to serve as drivers and students must identify a Goucher faculty or staff member to accompany them at the expense of the student organization. Both of these requirements are subject to exemption at the discretion of Dean Perl and the Legal Counsel.

As club presidents, we oppose these policies.

SGA should not be wasting its already dwindling budget on renting cars and hiring chaperones. We don’t understand why OSE is trying to waste SGA money.

The current Ultimate Frisbee budget is dedicated to paying for two things: tournament fees and gas money. A traditional tournament at, for example, Guilford College, about 370 miles from Goucher, would normally cost $600 for four cars. However, in order to hire a bus to drive us to and from tournaments, the cost becomes over $1560.  Hiking Society and Pitchin’ Tents are now limited in the locations where they can afford to travel.

Even if funding for the professional vehicles were possible, the higher cost would greatly limit the number of students able to participate. This directly goes against Goucher’s philosophy that all students have the opportunity to participate in Goucher-sponsored events. Simply put, SGA cannot afford to increase funding for trips by 940%. Without this funding, these clubs will either cease to exist, be able to bring less people to events, and/or go to less events.

Additionally, the current policy is worded too vaguely. After meetings with Dean Perl, we told her that it was unclear what exactly counts as the Baltimore/DC region, thus it was changed to 250 miles from Goucher.  This is just as bad. For a policy with such big ramifications, why was such an arbitrary number chosen? What makes someone safe within 250 miles, but not any mile beyond?

Exemption from the policy is at the discretion of Dean Perl “with consultation” of the Legal Counsel. This language means that a few administrators make the ultimate decision. What ensures all clubs will be treated fairly and equitably rather than being subject to the biases of one person?  Why does the administration, and not SGA, get to determine how SGA spends its money?

These are questions that need to be sufficiently answered before we can accept any policy which shifts control of the money we pay towards student activities away from the students themselves. This policy gives OSE the power to financially cripple clubs without due process. We want our peers to realize that this sets a horrible precedent for the amount of freedom we have as students.

We also take issue with the fact that not only were students not consulted when this policy was under consideration, but faculty advisers weren’t either. Now, faculty advisers are being forced to give up their free time to babysit legal adults. It is incredibly difficult to find advisers who will have time to do this, and will likely lead to the resignation of several current advisers. If OSE is not going to pay for these chaperones, why should SGA? Without definite funding, this will lead clubs to disband, all because the administration doesn’t trust us to watch ourselves and to represent Goucher in a respectable manner. As student leaders, we find this insulting.

By disallowing student drivers, we lose a critical ability to deal with emergency situations. Should an emergency occur necessitating transportation to a hospital (in case of injury) or shelter (in case of adverse weather), we are now forced to be reliant on hired drivers and/or chaperones, which adds unnecessary pieces to the equation; in the case of injury it now requires 3 people (the driver, the injured, and someone responsible and familiar such as a club president) to go on an emergency trip. This potentially strands everyone else or cuts their trip short if the one professional driver has to leave.

Goucher’s own insurance plan, which students must purchase or opt out of, covers only 60% of the costs for services outside of the network. With the average ambulance ride costing close to $1000, this becomes a huge burden for students who must now risk their own money and financial security because OSE doesn’t trust legal, licensed, and insured adults to drive their own vehicles.

As club presidents, we take our role as student leaders very seriously. We recognize that we are role models to younger students and strive to lead by example.  As legal adults, to treat us as something less is to not take us seriously as the responsible individuals that we are. To our knowledge, there have been no incidents to contradict this claim and we would welcome any opportunity to refute rumors regarding the contrary.

We understand the need for Goucher College to address issues of liability. However, the new policies will not work precisely because the administration did not consult with us, the students most affected. Although the policies have been altered since our initial protests, we firmly believe that they are still not in the best interest of our community. As such, we encourage students to support our cause by signing our petition found at http://tinyurl.com/GoucherChange.

We propose a solution: scrap the policy and create a counsel to include students and faculty.  Or, at the very least, let us sign waivers to absolve Goucher of liability should any incident occur. We want to continue to function and represent Goucher, however, under these conditions our ability to run our clubs is undermined. If Goucher doesn’t want to see some of its most active clubs cease to exist, something must be done.

Advertisements

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s