to ride or not to ride (this is a long post–sorry)

2 03 2010

When I received word from Pratt that I could “do” the ride but that Pratt would provide no insurance coverage, I was under the impression that I could still move forward with it as a Green Week event but just had to write up some liability waiver and call it a day.  I don’t quite get what Pratt has insurance for since they basically quash everything because of “liability”.

I’ve learned that this is the strategy with Pratt’s policies–make them a vague as possible so they can wash their hands of everything without having to state where they stand on a particular issue.  As I’m working with others to define appropriate policies that will ultimately benefit the campus administration and the community as a whole (inside of outside of the campus gates), I’m learning that every policy is left so undefined that when there is a violation, people are so confused by it all, they just give up and accept whatever they are told.  So–to give you the full picture, the following was the response I received from ER:

Upon review of the proposal I find that because of liability issues the Institute is not inclined to provide support for the proposed Green Week Bike Ride. Individual parties interested in participating in a ride of this nature are certainly free to engage and do the ride, however, they will not be provided any insurance coverage from the Institute.

Basically, Pratt is telling me to take on all the liability myself.  If someone get’s hurt, don’t sue the school (who has insurance!), sue the girl (read: me) who tried to do something to benefit the entire campus community.  Sue the girl who has nothing but debt accrued receiving graduate degree—at Pratt.

When I got the response above, I was left wondering if I could still advertise the event as a Pratt Green Week event–if I could do that, then it was still in the hands of Pratt.  It wouldn’t just be student’s getting together–it would be a legitimate event. I asked AP for clarification and received the following response:

At your request I sought clarification on this matter and was advised that this is not being viewed as a Pratt Green Week Event. It is a self organized bike ride which has not received approval by the institute and is not being provided insurance coverage by the Institute.

It is really a shame.  It is a shame that Pratt Institute does not and will not support events so promising of promoting and enriching the campus community.  People who strive, like myself, to build a better community are forced to take on the responsibility of organizing, creating, promoting, doing ALL of the work to make ANYTHING happen at Pratt–and are then forced to naively take on the liability should something happen.

Unfortunately, when I was told “this is not being viewed as a Pratt Green Week Event”, it meant that the ride would no longer serve it’s original purpose–to bring students/staff/faculty together in a new and exciting way that was sponsored by and supported by the Institute.  I wanted to demonstrate not only to the students but to administrators like ER that we could create something positive around biking that would bring people around the university together.  Now–If I am to hold the ride, it would serve a different, more defiant purpose–an “I’m going to do it no matter what you say” purpose that yes, may be effecting in some aspects, but really just let’s ER justify to himself that cyclists and students are defiant and obnoxious and are only to be considered a liability.

And that’s ultimately what I’m struggling with.

I got some advice from TA’s general council that informed me how I can be removed from the liability but it still means that I am promoting an event that is for Pratt–that will start on the campus and will benefit the campus community–that might even get advertisement on NY1–yet Pratt (as an Institute) essentially wants nothing to do with it.

So do I write up a liability form and promote it–or do I cancel the ride and say forget it and just blog about how much it sucks and write a letter to the President of the university and end it there.  If I say forget it–I’m doing what every other person at Pratt who’s tried to make a difference has done–they quite because people like ER get in the way.  If I do the ride and it’s successful, then maybe I’ll prove my point that way?

I don’t even know if I have the energy anymore.  I mean sometimes I really wonder—what’s the point?

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One response

2 03 2010
Peg

perhaps you’ve opened doors and paved a way for such a ride in the future – which will probably take a couple of years of discussion, planning, budgeting, discussion and establishments of new policies etc….
since you birthed the idea and you graduate in 2 months – I suggest releasing it to the future!

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