Williams Outing Club changes policies to increase inclusivity

In the spring, the Williams Outing Club (WOC) instituted a new financial aid policy as well as a trial membership option.

The financial aid policy allows students to receive reimbursements for WOC-led trips in proportion to the financial aid they receive from the College. For example, a student who has 50 percent of their tuition covered by financial aid can receive a 50-percent reimbursement. The reimbursements can cover any amount up to $300.

The trial membership, created this semester, allows a student who has not been a WOC member before to go on a trip, borrow equipment or use the climbing wall once without becoming a  member. Students cannot use the trial membership to take a physical education class.

A WOC membership costs $10 for students. The fee can be waived for students who elect to participate in WOOLF if the fee poses a financial hardship.

The goal of the two policies is to make WOC more inclusive. According to Abby Kelly ’16, co-president of WOC, students may feel excluded if they do not have experience with outdoor activities, like backpacking. The trial membership allows students to gain some experience before deciding whether or not to purchase a full membership.

WOC has combined these new policies with efforts to organize trips that are specifically planned for students with limited hiking and camping experience. For example, this year, WOC organized a camping trip on Stone Hill designed for students who had never camped before.

“I think it was a really great experience for me because I had never been camping before,” Terah Ehigiator ’18, a student who participated in the camping trip on Stone Hill, said. “Because of my experience, I feel more open to going on a regular WOC trip because I know it wouldn’t be that intense and I also know now that WOC offers trips that aren’t just for the most crunchy and outdoorsy.”

While WOC now promotes inclusivity, Kelly acknowledged that these policies would have been beneficial in the past.

“Something should have been done a long time ago,” Kelly said. According to Kelly, the changes were only implemented last academic year because the WOC board was not aware of its poten-tial exclusivity.

For now, the funding for these policies comes from a surplus of money in WOC’s membership account, which is money that comes from selling memberships. WOC will have to determine if this source of funding is sustainable for future years.

In addition to receiving money from membership sales, WOC also receives funding from College Council.

“Our effort to make WOC more actively inclusive is a good start, but there is a lot more we can do,” Kelly said. “We welcome all feedback.”

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