the bad

5 03 2010

I’ve decided not to do the ride.  I actually feel  at peace with my decision and this is why:

First, I know the chances are slim, but I would like to avoid being sued.  TA gave me a a sample liability form however, should (by the unlikely chance) something horrible happen, I might be removed from liability but would need be required to pay any legal costs.  At this point in my life, I’m not willing to take that risk.  What’s problematic with this is that the university, an Institute with insurance and the means to fight a lawsuit would rather I fight that battle rather than support their student.  If I wasn’t made fully aware of the risks by the people supporting me with this project, I would have blindly taken that chance–and Pratt would have happily stood back.  I never want to be in a situation where I feel unsupported in the work I am doing for that person or that organization.

The second reason I’ve accepted my decision is this– I can go for a ride with my friends anytime.  The point of this ride was to do something for the Pratt Community with the full support of Pratt’s administration.  I could have tried to get a third party to host the ride and take on the liability, but that means Pratt benefits from it all and, if something happens, they can wash their hands of it entirely.  For a ski trip, that makes sense but for a community bike ride–to me, it makes no sense at all.  Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the support I needed from those who have the power to approve the work I’m doing because they weren’t convinced that it was a risk worth taking.  I need to work a harder to prove to Pratt’s administration that this is important not only to me and the students, but it is important for the Institute itself.  It is clear I haven’t been successful in this yet and I have two more months to work a little harder at that.

My next step is to try and meet with Dr. Schutte (I’m much better working with people in person).  I don’t know how likely it will be to arrange for a meeting and honestly, it might not be a good idea to go above ER but–I have nothing to lose with this one–no one can sue me in this situation.  I have heard (though I haven’t confirmed) that Dr. Schutte (Pratt’s president) has wanted to organize and lead a bike ride with the students but for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened.  If I meet with him, I hope to speak with him about the walls that I’ve come up against and ask how he thinks we can work around the “liability concerns”.  More importantly, I can talk with him about how important this project, Campus Area Biking, is to fulfilling the commitments he has made (on behalf of the Institute) to Mayor Bloomberg’s sustainability initiatives.  I hold firm that without this project, Pratt will only make small steps to achieving its stated sustainability goals.  Maybe then we can have an end of the year ride or something–you never know.

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