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News For U: Backcountry Squatters

News Writer Jack McIntyre sits down with Emma to talk about the University of Utah’s nature club for women and nonbinary students, the Backcountry Squatters.
Claire Peterson
(Design by Claire Peterson | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

In today’s episode, Emma speaks with news writer Jack McIntyre about a new outdoor recreational club exclusively for women and nonbinary students, the Backcountry Squatters. You can read the full story here.

Emma Ratkovic: Hello, and welcome back to News For U, the Daily Utah Chronicle’s news podcast. I’m your host Emma Ratkovic and on today’s episode of the podcast, I’m meeting with news writer Jack McIntyre to discuss his recent story on the Backcountry Squatters club. Hi, Jack, can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the Chronicle?

Jack McIntyre: Hey, I’m Jack. I’m a news writer for the Chronicle. I just started this year. Yeah.

Emma Ratkovic: Jack, you recently wrote a story describing the club the Backcountry Squatters. Can you describe the purpose of the club?

Jack McIntyre: The purpose of the club is to give opportunities for women and nonbinary students to get involved in nature and get involved in a community of peers. So, I interviewed a few of them and I wrote a story on it.

Emma Ratkovic: Nice. What type of events does the club host?

Jack McIntyre: The club hosts a few events, they host weekly meetings, kind of like most clubs, and then they have events, usually on the weekends where they go and kind of do, like, an adventure, or like climbing or bouldering or canyoneering, kind of in nature. And that’s kind of like the format of the club, it seemed like is they do a weekly thing, and then maybe kind of bigger events — not every weekend, but every few weekends at least.

Emma Ratkovic: What are some of the locations and places the club has visited?

Jack McIntyre: So the club told me that they went to the Uintas and they were talking about — they went canyoneering, I think in Moab, and then they also talked about they wanted to go to the West Desert, but it was too cold. So they ended up — they wanted to go have like a dance thing and the West Desert was too cold, so they ended up just doing it in someone’s backyard.

Emma Ratkovic: What are places that they intend to go in the future?

Jack McIntyre: Well, they talked about that they have gone — well we actually had a little bit of conversation, they said they’ve gone, I think north, east and south, but they have never gone west, or something like that. They plan on going to the West Desert. So hopefully they make it out there, I feel like that’d be pretty cool.

Emma Ratkovic: Does the club offer any beginner-level excursions for those who are more inexperienced?

Jack McIntyre: I don’t know for sure about if they offer like specifically, like beginner excursions, but I know that the club offers opportunities to teach people. You know, if you don’t know how to canyoneer, um, they have, you know, leadership that will show you how to do it. So I feel like it’s not a huge concern that you can show up kind of without knowing, you know, a whole lot about outdoor adventure and still be successful.

Emma Ratkovic: Are there areas in the club where women and nonbinary people can gather without partaking in recreational activities?

Jack McIntyre: You mean, like in nature? Yeah, so they have events, on Fridays that are usually just like social events, it sounds like. They talked about having like, kind of movie nights and things like that, to like, just kind of build a community. But I think even if you maybe, you know, don’t want to go on every kind of trip, you can just kind of focus on the community events.

Emma Ratkovic: In your story, you mentioned that Montana State University was the first school to start the organization. What inspired the current presidents of the club to start their own chapter at the U?

Jack McIntyre: I don’t remember the names of the original founders, but I know that they, kind of, you know, lived in Bozeman, at Montana State, and were really into nature, but kind of noticed that the community, you know, the nature community was very male-dominated and it made it difficult for kind of women to, you know, find a community to like, you know, explore nature with and I think they saw that and, and just decided to make an organization that was geared for women who maybe feel like, it can be difficult to get a foothold in the nature community.

Emma Ratkovic: You also wrote that the group has grown significantly since it was founded in Montana, adding 13 new chapters in the past eight years, mostly in the northwest, but also in Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Are there future plans to continue expanding chapters among universities?

Jack McIntyre: You know, on that exact topic, I’m not sure, but I’m sure that — I would be shocked if they’re not continuing to expand. The Utah chapter is pretty new, the club is pretty new as well. It seems to be in pretty high demand. So it would not surprise me if more chapters were made available in other states and other colleges.

Emma Ratkovic: What distinguishes this club from others for women and nonbinary people?

Jack McIntyre: Well, I think obviously, the main focus is nature. I mean, I guess that’s kind of, you know, a little bit obvious. But yeah, I think especially, you know, in the northwest, like Salt Lake and Montana and, you know, like Washington, I think there’s a lot of opportunities to, be in, explore, I guess, a natural environment that’s very available. But I think, you know, in other states where there’s also a natural environment, I think, you know, a club like that would be very successful.

Emma Ratkovic: Do you think the club will have more significant effects on women and nonbinary people participating in leisure activities in Utah?

Jack McIntyre: Yeah, I think one of the main purposes of the club is just to build a community. And I think that’s really important for for what you’re talking about. So yeah, I think it will have an effect on women and nonbinary students. Yeah, I think I think it will improve their ability to access leisure activities.

Emma Ratkovic: Awesome. When does the club meet, and when do events and trips take place?

Jack McIntyre: The club meets every Monday for club meetings, and then it meets on Fridays, as well, for a community event. The trips usually take place on the weekends.

Emma Ratkovic: How can students get involved in the Backcountry Squatters club?

Jack McIntyre: I think you can reach out on Campus Connect, they also have an Instagram account, which is linked in my story. But yeah, I think kind of just like any other club, I think if you reach out to the leadership, it should be pretty straightforward.

Emma Ratkovic: Do you have any final thoughts or comments?

Jack McIntyre: Nope.

Emma Ratkovic: Okay. Thank you for joining us on the podcast today.

Jack McIntyre: Yeah, of course.

Emma Ratkovic: And this is Emma, and thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s episode of News For U. Make sure to tune in to our next episode.


Producer: Graham Jones — [email protected] | @grahamcool8

Host: Emma Ratkovic [email protected]  | @eratkovic_news

Guest: Jack McIntyre — [email protected]| @JackM_Chronicle

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About the Contributors
Graham Jones
Graham Jones, Assistant Arts Editor
Graham Jones was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and moved to Utah to study film. Despite his passion for cinema, Graham joined the Chronicle to engage with the University of Utah community and pursue his love for journalism. Outside of the student media office, Graham can be found buried deep into the pages of a graphic novel or lip-syncing to the greatest hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Emma Ratkovic
Emma Ratkovic, News For U host
Emma is from Park City and is studying journalism and Spanish. She was an investigative writer for a year before doing full-time podcasting for the News For U and Uncovered Podcasts. She has also done work for the Park City Prospector, TownLift, and the University of Utah's Humanities Radio. She also runs an independent podcast called What's The Dilemma, which is available on most streaming platforms. She loves writing, producing, traveling, music, exercise, and hiking through the mountains of beautiful Utah.
Claire Peterson
Claire Peterson, Designer
Claire has been a part of the design desk at the Chronicle since 2021. She’s a senior studying urban ecology with minors in geography and architecture. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, skiing, and paddle boarding.

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