Stanford ends "Outdoor House" because of equity issues, lets it be reconstituted after pseudo strugge session, promise cheaper more local activities

The URGC also wrote that Outdoor House should pursue “meaningful engagement with faculty and staff in the important areas of equity and inclusion to more fully address the cultural concerns of the previous outdoor house that you included so explicitly in your application.” The house’s theme applicants focused on shifting its framework to address issues inherent in centering a house around outdoor culture — a traditionally white and wealthy space. In a Letter to the Community, Outdoor House community members wrote that “Centered on expensive hobbies, the house has not shown enough regard to the people we exclude, the land we recreate on, or perspectives outside the mainstream interpretation of outdoor recreation.”

“We realized this was an opportunity to reorient our community, and create a space actively opposed to the harmful norms of ‘outdoorsiness’ in America,” they continued. “Our application imagined a theme house which removes recreation from the spotlight in favor of education, reflection, and action.”

This year, Outdoor House community leaders are committed to turning the house culture into a more accessible environment. As a potential resident assistant (RA) for the house next year, Paxton Scott ’23 envisions that weekend trips will primarily be close to campus and not require any previous camping experience or out-of-pocket purchases. Scott is also a former editor for The Daily.

Before the pandemic, Outdoor House would often host trips in places like the Sierra Nevadas or Mount Shasta. These trips required driving long distances or having access to specific gear, according to former Outdoor House resident Sean Roelofs ’22 M.S. ’23. While Roelofs himself has fond memories attached to some of those trips, he also recognizes that previous iterations of Outdoor House have underutilized spaces closer to campus.

“We have beautiful mountains that are a 30-minute drive from us. Why can’t all of our Outdoor House retreats be there?” Roelofs said. “Within the Bay Area, there are a ton of spaces. It’s a lot more accessible to people who don’t have time to drive eight extra hours.”

Eric Bear ’23, who applied to be an RA for Outdoor House next year, echoed Lowley’s sentiment. Bear hopes that the themed residence will help people view simpler, less-strenuous activities as a healthy, more-inclusive alternative to what he calls “conquest-based” activities. Some of those simpler activities, to him, include playing frisbee, painting outdoors or going for dish hikes or walks around campus.