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After an Accident, Ban the Activity
To be fair, a sophomore was recently hurt after her rope caught on a small, cut-off branch and she swung back into the tree to which the rope was tied. She hit her head, lost her grip, and then fell a good distance onto a log that lay on the river bank. She suffered a a burst L1 vertebra and broken L2 and L3 vertebrae. Fortunately, her spinal cord was not injured.
Should that be the end of the story? The obvious answer is that different parts of the administration have different attitudes towards risk. If broken bones were the standard for ending student involvement in an activity, we’d have no more varsity sports, no more white-water kayaking (above right), mountain climbing, and frankly, any event where students come into contact with each other or solid objects. But somehow things don’t work that way. A Dartmouth student died in 2005 of injuries incurred at the Skiway, and skiing injuries are common, but skiing gets a pass.Insurance issues or legal liability are, as usual, cited regarding rope swings, but this gambit is just a red herring (insurance is the last argument of an administration scoundrel; it is one of Carol Folt’s favorites). The College’s umbrella policy covers exactly this kind of accident — just as it covers the climbing of Bartlett Tower by intrepid mountaineers (left), for example. Nobody is proposing to raze the Tower because of the occasional accident there.
In the end, my sense is that this controversy all comes down to the decision-maker. AD Harry Sheehy does not ban a sport due to the physical risk that it offers students; he understands that such things occur in life. But fussy, risk-averse people, like the Dean of the College and the College Counsel, seem to sit up nights worrying that someone somewhere might scrape a knee doing things that lie within their areas of responsibility.
Let’s hope for some consistency from the administration in the future as regards these matters — that is one of the President’s roles — and also for some determination that students are able to choose the ways in which they have fun. Besides, new rope each year costs a fair amount of money.
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
August 23, 2009
Fare Thee Well, Tom Crady
And now Dean Tom Crady has precipitously announced his departure from the College after only 20 months on the job. How to read this? By way of background, prior to coming to Dartmouth, Crady had…
May 31, 2009
Kangaroo Court, Indeed
In an interview with The Dartmouth, alumni-elected trustee T.J. Rodgers ‘70 explained his reasons for declining to participate in future evaluations of trustees up for “re-election,” namely the “kangaroo court” nature of such discussion in…