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The university wanted to honour baseball legend Jackie Robinson by having a picnic.
This element was picked up in other ‘picnic’ terms, such as ‘picnic society,’ which described gatherings of the intelligentsia where everyone was expected to perform or in some other way contribute to the success of the evening.
Over time, the meaning of the word shifted to emphasize an alfresco element that had crept into the evolving concept of what such gatherings were supposed to be.
Robinson) pointed out, the word “picnic” actually comes from a 17th-century French word that denotes a party at which everyone brings food.
But Zaheer Mustafa, the equity officer, nevertheless decreed that “picnic” not be used because “the point is — the word offends.” So the university decided to call it an “outing.” Then, homosexual students took objection to that, and SUNY decided to publicize the event without using any noun to describe it. Jones noted in Black Voice News, there’s a very real downside to spouting hoax definitions just because they push a few buttons: It makes those doing the protesting look ignorant.
Even then, the word still wasn’t being used in America (but rather in England) and referred to a fashionable pot-luck social affair that was not necessarily held out-of-doors.