Outdoor Club at Ross Inclusion Strategy

Background:

In alignment with the below Mission Statement, the Outdoor Club at Ross is committed to diversity and inclusion.

The Outdoor Club at Ross is dedicated to helping the Ross community get outside. We support seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and those new to outdoor pursuits alike to explore the great outdoors in Michigan and beyond. We believe in fostering a sense of belonging that is inclusive, in enabling outdoor adventure, in creating opportunities for skill-building, and in fostering mindfulness of our connection to nature.

‌As such, the Outdoor Club At Ross will use the below strategy to foster diversity and inclusion

Strategy:

Promoting diverse voices:

As a club with a focus on educating members, we recognize the importance of incorporating a diverse set of voices in that experience. We are committed to empowering diverse voices and providing a forum for all to learn and engage in thoughtful dialogue that makes us better outdoors persons and humans.

Example: The club will aim to secure a BIPOC guest speaker for a DEI event this year and will seek to amplify diverse voices throughout the year through events such as film screenings or trips to educational centers in the state that focus on the history of local indigenous tribes.

Educational resources:

For those hoping to further their knowledge outside of events, the club will provide a library of materials, links, and recommended movies, books and articles for members. This will specifically include diverse voices and material relevant to the issue of diversity in the outdoors.

Example: The outdoor club website will include links to articles and recommendations on books, podcasts, etc. relevant to diversity in the outdoors. This resource will be highlighted in club communications as well.

Accessible for those at all skill levels:

We support seasoned outdoor enthusiasts, those new to outdoor pursuits, and everyone in between. To accomplish this, we will continue to emphasize a wide range of activities and events to accommodate everyone. This includes introductory level skill building events to help introduce individuals to various outdoor pursuits and more approachable activities such as local nature walks. We also know it is imperative to make more advanced activities accessible as well. To accomplish this, the club is committed to incorporating instruction, education and safety into all activities, regardless of activity level.

Example: many first time campers were able to travel to Patagonia for a 6 night camping trip last year. This was accomplished through a combination of pre-trip workshops and through the thoughtful selection of a trip organizer with experience guiding trips for both novices and skilled outdoors persons.

Consideration of cost and resources:

We know that the initial cost of many outdoor activities can create a significant barrier to entry. To address this, the club will, whenever possible, provide information on ways to minimize costs and avoid the commitment of purchasing items. Club members who are comfortable doing so will lend gear to others.

Example: An email about a snowshoeing event will list necessary gear such as warm clothes, a small backpack, water, snacks and snowshoes. In addition, the email will provide information on gear rentals available, such as those at REI and through the University of Michigan. We will also endeavor to provide equipment or subsidize rentals when possible.

Avoidance of scheduling conflicts:

We lead busy lives with full schedules and a plethora of events. In the past, this has limited participation in outdoor club events. To address this, the club will schedule events as far in advance as possible to ensure they are on the Ross calendar. We believe this will give students the chance to identify opportunities to participate in outdoor club events and plan their calendars accordingly. We will also work to schedule events at times when we believe we can maximize availability to others.

Example: While we plan to host/co-host an event during DEI week, we recognize that it made it challenging for many to join last year. Moving forward we will schedule DEI events throughout the year to maximize participation across all students and members. We also recognize that our Sleeping Bear Dunes trip was the same weekend as the BBSA retreat, which may have limited representation from members of that group. We will work to avoid such conflicts in the future.

Accessibility and awareness:

While the club recognizes the value of membership, we are aware that this may serve as an initial barrier for engagement. Ultimately, this hinders our ability to attract new members. To address this, we will encourage participation from non-members for all events that do not incur a cost (e.g., local hikes, member led workshops, etc.). We will also seek to use channels such as MBSA emails to promote the activities to as wide an audience as possible and not just rely on the outdoor club listserv.

Example: A local nature walk is cost free for everyone. We will promote such an event to all members of the MBA community through the MBSA newsletter and will clearly state that it is open to all.

Addressing accessibility concerns caused by COVID:

We recognize that the risk of exposure to COVID, limitations on travel and other factors may preclude members from participating in club activities in person. This will be addressed in a few ways. For events that can occur safely in person, we will encourage all members to take a health informed approach to gathering. For events that can be done virtually, we will make sure to provide that as an option.

Example: An introduction to backpacking workshop can be hosted virtually so all participants can join remotely.

Seeking feedback on inclusion:

We want to proactively solicit ideas about ways to be more inclusive and ensure lines of communication are always open for sharing feedback. Our goal is to create the most inclusive environment without unduly burdening BIPOC. To do this, we will provide a permanent link on our website for providing feedback. We will also include this in all emails. The survey to provide feedback will also have the option to provide demographic information such as race and gender.

Example: All emails sent by the club will have a link to the survey/form where anyone can provide anonymous feedback and suggestions. This form will always have a section for providing feedback on inclusivity.

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