Penn State University’s 98-year old Outing Club has been bannedfrom conducting outings. The university authorities have decided the great outdoors is simply too fraught with risk for students. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A backpacking trip in the Rothrock State Forest and day hikes in the Laurel Highlands and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia were among the Penn State Outing Club’s 2018 spring-term events.
After this weekend, though, the 98-year-old organization has nothing on its calendar, and unless things change, it won’t.
The Outing Club isn’t allowed to go outside anymore.
According to an announcement posted by the club on its website last week, the university will not allow the club to organize and run outdoor, student-led trips starting next semester.
“This is a result,” the announcement said, “of an assessment of risk management by the university that determined that the types of activities in which PSOC engages are above the university’s threshold of acceptable risk for recognized student organizations.”
The Outing Club, founded 1920, is one of Penn State’s oldest clubs.
In 2016, more than 63,600 Americans died from drug overdoses, triple the 1999 rate. The overprescribing of opioid painkillers largely is driving this spike in deaths. But experts suggest that other things also are at work — including the effects of climate change.
Scientists who have been studying opioid deaths across the country believe that socioeconomic factors and natural disasters should become part of any national conversation about how to tackle America’s wave of opioid deaths. In recent years, global warming has fueled a growing number of turbulent weather events that have taken a grim toll on the human psyche.
“It is reasonable to expect that damage and destruction cause emotional and mental health problems and lead to drug abuse, both new and existing users,” said Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural and regional economics at Pennsylvania State University. “There are long-lasting effects of such calamities, and they do not tend to diminish.”
And perhaps, Professor Goetz’s co-author goes on to suggest, Hurricane Katrina might be the reason so many more people started taking opioids in New Orleans…