To increase accessibility, OP will host initiation in wilderness of Ankeny Field


Illustration by Lanh Tran

Fielding Schaefer, Arc’teryx Rep Dude

Whitman has long discouraged the hazing practices of fraternities and sororities. But only recently, as the school and student body confronts the walls that restrict attaining the Whitman ideal of “outdoorsiness,” has Whitman questioned the Whitman Outdoor Program (OP)’s excruciating annual initiation.

Every March, the Whitman Outdoor Program gears up for a full send deep into the high ridges and dense forests of the snow-blanketed blue mountains. They trudge crotch-deep in some wicked pow before posting up for camp on a ridge: that’s where all the fun begins. 

The OP manifesto states that Whitties must “mountaineer a 20-mile loop through dense brush without scuffing or tearing their Patagonia jacket, all while pounding IPAs. Along the way, they must track and fight a black bear.” Upon return, they must recite the principles of Leave No Trace, make some claim to the extent of “yeah, it wasn’t really that hard” and finally, they are initiated into the OP cult. 

In response to criticisms about this tradition’s intimidation factor, the OP has declared a full restructuring of their cult excursion. Instead of the blues, Ankeny Field will host the OP pledges this coming Friday. Students are encouraged to bring their own mattresses and comforters from home to put in their tents. Students will spend the day painting ducks and ants and grass, and later they will embark on a light, accessible hike to Cleveland for dinner. 

The OP hopes that this event will bridge the outdoorsiness gap at Whitman. Students will ideally feel more confident to utilize the OP and get outdoors. If all goes well, Kathy Murray has vowed to designate Ankeny as Whitman’s own wilderness area, where all students can feel outdoorsy – even if they’re not.