News & Politics

Student Op-Ed: Too Many White People in Outdoor Clubs

The great thing about extracurricular activities is that people can pick and choose what they want to do, for the most part. Sure, not everyone can play college football, but people who like hiking and camping can meet up with others who enjoy those things. Others can play role-playing games, share their faith, or talk about science fiction. There’s all kinds of things you can do, and race, religion, sexual orientation, and other things become irrelevant.

Except, it seems, that’s not the case.

An op-ed in The Student Life, the online student newspaper for the Claremont Colleges, claims that some of the most supported clubs are problematic because they’re just too white.

“The 5Cs are known for their prominent outdoor programs, such as Pitzer Outdoor Adventure (POA) and On the Loose (OTL), which are some of the most funded extracurricular activities on the Claremont Colleges,” writer Malcolm McCann argues. “However, POA and OTL trips are predominantly white spaces.”

Such is life. Yet this is a problem.

“Both clubs claim to be accessible: while trips are open to any student wanting to go, not everyone feels the same ease in entering the outdoors. This discomfort is unfortunately caused by existing racial boundaries,” McCann claims.

And the real problem? Colonialism.

“Historically, white people in imperialist conquests have appropriated land as their own,” McCann writes. “North America rightfully belongs to indigenous communities, yet it has been taken away from them by force. Consequently, a false sense of ownership of nature permeates white America.”

Of course, McCann doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave the United States.

He also misses that people’s hang-ups are rarely the responsibilities of others. Minorities who refuse to join a club simply because there are too many white people are exhibiting the same racial biases that are considered so problematic coming from whites. If a white person refuses to join a club because there are too many blacks, the only excuse for his discomfort is racism. How is the reverse not also true?

Absent concrete examples of racism–which McCann lacks–there’s no reason for this to be any kind of issue.

While McCann offers solutions, they’re all predicated on some kind of problem that simply doesn’t exist. If a minority wants to step up and join the outdoor club, don’t whine about the number of Caucasians involved. Join, learn, share what you know, and have a good time.

That is what college clubs are supposed to be about, not social justice concepts invading every potential activity to drain any and all enjoyment from them.