Outing club encourages diversity

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The Outing Club’s program ALANA GEAR, remains to be the only one of its kind in the country.

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GEAR is designed to bridge a campus diversity gap within the club by giving ALANA students a chance to immerse themselves in the Outing Club environment while in a contained setting.

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A typical outing club trip has the students meet only one time prior to departure. With GEAR, members of the outing club meet with students from ALANA to teach them the skills needed to go on outing club trips. After the program, ALANA students from GEAR become Outing Club leaders.

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“The outing club has been told it appears to be intimidating,” said Fiona Bryne, Outing Club Vice President. GEAR is an attempt to lower the intimidation factor and remove barriers that may prevent ALANA students from joining.

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From its beginning in 2006, the ALANA GEAR program has reached a point where it is no longer a trial and error program. The program has seen success and the number of participants is increasing, said Sara Stanton, diversity coordinator for the club,

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The number of minority students at the University of Vermont has been increasing within the last 15 years. In 1995, there was less than five percent minority students on campus and today there are over 10 percent.

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“Establishing a diverse and inclusive culture is a priority at the University of Vermont. In fact, UVM holds that diversity and academic excellence are inseparable.” according to the Diversity website of UVM.

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Groups such as ALANA have been designed to specifically accommodate minorities. The ALANA(Asian-American, Latino, African-American & Native American) coalition has meetings focused on giving people of color a place where they can network, get support and discuss ALANA-related issues.

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Sheerwood Smith, Director of the Center for Cultural Pluralism, explained how creating a diverse climate on a college campus is a muti-step process. Increasing the number of minorities on campus is one step, however it is not the only one.

“There is a lot of work to do besides increasing numbers”  Smith said.

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Smith said he believes that ALANA GEAR has not only focused on increasing the amount of minority students in their club, but has provided an environment for both ALANA students and Outing Club students to better understand each other. Smith said the program “is engaging is an equal relationship between members.”

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Nathasha Camille, ALANA mentor, said she thinks that if an ALANA student has an interest in something, they should pursue it.