DOC Trips accept many from specific groups

by Phil Salinger | 4/28/06 5:00am

When Annie Son '08 applied to lead a Dartmouth Outing Club freshman trip this year, she was hoping that she would not be rejected for the second year in a row. The alcohol and eating disorder peer advisor, Undergraduate Advisor, diversity peer program and Peer Academic Link member and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority applied to lead either a hiking, kayaking, canoeing or nature photography trip. She also applied to be on either the Hanover or Lodj Croos for Trips and had applied for the same trips and Croos the previous year. To her dismay, Son, who has fairly extensive hiking and kayaking experience, fell short again.

Last week, the DOC Trips, which are seen by many as one of the best parts of the Dartmouth experience, released their admissions decisions for the 2006 freshmen trip leaders. About 260 of the 482 applicants were offered Trips, an acceptance rate just over 50 percent.

According to Trips director Colleen Wearn '06, Trips strives to select a group of leaders that represent a microcosm of the student body in terms of background and interest.

"It would be our goal to have the leaders reflect the student body of Dartmouth so that all of the incoming students find people they can connect with," she said.

Even considering this goal, a disproportionately high number of members of a few student organizations not explicitly tied to the DOC have become trip leaders. A few members or former members of each of these groups are also central to Trips and to the trip leader admissions process.

Eleven members of the men's Ultimate Frisbee "A" team applied to be trip leaders; ten were accepted. Also on the team are at least two of the 20 students charged with reading and evaluating the applications.

Another group prominent in Trips admissions is Outdoor Leadership Experience, an outdoor mentoring program for middle school and high school students run through the Tucker Foundation. Of the 21 OLE members who applied to be trip leaders, 20 were accepted. Another member of OLE was one of the application readers and Wearn, who is one of two people with final say over whom to accept, was a member of OLE as recently as last term.

Sam Routhier '07, an Ultimate Frisbee player and Trips application reader, said that the Frisbee team's past participation on Trips has helped maintain its presence because many freshmen interested in becoming involved with Trips gravitate to the leaders and Croo-members, many of whom play Ultimate Frisbee.

"The exposure that the Ultimate [Frisbee] team gets on Trips helps us to perpetuate both our club's student population and our club's involvement in Trips," he said.

Routhier added that the values and pursuits of the Ultimate Frisbee team lend themselves well to being a good trip leader, and that accepting good trip leaders and making the experience as good as possible for the trippees -- or freshmen -- was Trips' priority,

"Trips is for trippees and as far as I know there's no dissatisfaction from the trippees with the composition of the leadership," he said.

Another factor contributing to the Ultimate Frisbee team's admissions successes may be that upperclass males in general had higher acceptance rates because more younger students than older students applied and more women than men applied, Wearn said. Specific statistics on demographical acceptance rates were unavailable, however.

Wearn said that OLE members are often attractive candidates because they frequently have the outdoor experience to lead some of the more demanding hiking trips. A few of the OLE-affiliated trip leaders fit this description, such as Gahl Rinat '09 who will lead a strenuous hiking trip and Gabrielle Santa-Donato '09 who will lead a climbing trip, but the bulk of them will lead less demanding trips.

"The biggest hiking thing I've done is just my DOC trip freshman year," said Nina Rostanski '07, an OLE member who will lead a leisurely hiking trip next year.

Many students whose applications have been unsuccessful have criticized Trips admissions for being narrow-minded, saying that Trips underestimates the qualities of students in organizations with which it is not as familiar.

"There are talented and funny people on campus who aren't a part of these student organizations," Son said. "Dartmouth has such a diverse group of people, and I don't think that is evident judging by the leaders on freshmen trips."

Despite any frustration over the admissions selections, Wearn stressed how fortunate Trips was to have so many students interested in leading a trip, and that such strong interest was a testament to the greatness of Trips.

"The purpose of Trips is to serve the incoming class and every single student in the incoming class and to be welcoming to all of them, and I think that this group of leaders this year, as they do every year, will do a phenomenal job," she said.

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