Inclusion Week helps start conversations about diversity and inclusion

Published by The Rocket, Author: Stephen Cukovich - Sports Editor, Date: October 11, 2018
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Last week, the NCAA began their week long Inclusion Week campaign to help shed light on how diversity and inclusion affect the student-athlete through social media using #NCAAInclusion.

“What they really wanted to do was just get all the athletes on social media and get the word out for exactly what it is,” SRU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) president Abby Way said.  “So just being super inclusive on your teams no matter what gender, race, ethnicity, disability no matter what it is.  Just really including everyone and bringing everybody in for the shared love of the game.”

On the NCAA’s website, they state the purpose of the campaign was to serve as a platform for student-athletes, administrators, coaches, and fans across the country to start the discussion, speak out on, and promote diversity and inclusion as key elements of student-athlete success.

Day one of the campaign was titled “More Than an Athlete”, with the goal to show who each student-athlete is.  This is in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or anything else that helps identify each athlete as more than an athlete.  Day two was titled “Beyond a Label”, with the purpose of debunking athletic-related stereotypes, such as athletes are only at school to play their sport.

The NCAA has done similar campaigns in the past to help promote diversity and inclusion, and Way said she believes this has been the most successful campaign she has seen.

“I definitely saw not only from our school but different school’s SAAC’s online retweeting their athletes, there was just a lot of different schools participating in it,” Way said.

On day three, students took to social media to discuss the facts regarding diversity and inclusion in collegiate athletics.

For example, diversity is a large part of the collegiate experience, with more and more international athletes participating in NCAA Divisions I and II.  According to the NCAA’s website, in D-II schools, the percentage of international students has risen 3.1 percent in the NCAA, while D-I schools have seen a four percent rise in the same time frame.

On day four, the goal of the day was to highlight personal definitions of diversity and inclusion to show that they can mean different things to people given their background. Lastly on day five, each athlete was asked to make pledges and commitments to action steps student-athletes can take to embrace diversity and promote inclusion.

“I think it was really cool to see what all different people were tweeting and everything,” Way said.  “And what people do outside of athletics because you get to know people and everything, but you don’t know their backstory and where they come from and what they do.”

Way believes the main takeaway from the week was to learn more about each other on a deeper level than just getting to know each other as athletes, which proved to be her personal favorite part of the campaign.

“I liked tweeting the pictures and going through looking at the hashtags and seeing what everybody else posted,” Way said.  “Just getting to know more about people that I know, but actually don’t know so it was really interesting.”

To find out what Rock athletes were tweeting about and sharing for the campaign, they can be found on the SRU SAAC Twitter page @TheRock_SAAC where they retweeted many student athletes from all sports across campus.

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