MANHATTAN, Kansas – With Diversity and Inclusion as a pillar of its Strategic Plan, K-State Athletics continues to identify new activation steps as a way to grow its social justice programming and awareness for all student-athletes, coaches and staff.
The department is in its fourth year of its Diversity and Inclusion plan, which was created to foster an environment that embraces and celebrates diversity, while intentionally promoting and practicing inclusion.
“We will not stand for social injustice,” said Athletics Director Gene Taylor. “Now is the time for us to build upon the Diversity and Inclusion program that we launched two years ago and make bigger strides in the areas of racial injustice and racism. I am so proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff for working together on these steps and know that our department and University will continue to evolve and grow tremendously.”
The 2020-21 academic year affords the department a unique opportunity surrounding the social unrest nationally, and with the input and guidance from student-athletes, coaches and staff, it has identified the following items as focal points for continued progress:
· Launching the Diversity and Inclusion Fund which allows K-Staters to directly support department-wide initiatives that actively seek inclusive and diverse community through educational programming and support of all student-athletes, coaches, and staff.
· Student-athlete involvement on Ad Hoc Board with SGA and Administration on Student Code of Conduct.
· Mandatory Diversity and Inclusion training for student-athletes, coaches and staff and holding monthly Diversity and Inclusion town hall sessions with student-athletes.
· Continue to be diligent in efforts to recruit a broad set of applicants for department staff and coaching positions, including using department personnel and national resources to create diverse hiring pools.
· Utilize a home game in all sports to show support that Black Lives Matter.
· Create more opportunities for all sports to foster relationships and communication between all student-athletes and coaches.
· Find new ways to showcase Black History Month and highlight black student-athletes through the department’s communication channels.
· Partner with the Black Student Union for more programming and educational opportunities and with campus police and RCPD to build better relationships.
· Have voter registration sessions and education for all student-athletes and provide transportation to voting polls on election day.
· Men’s basketball, in concert with all other Big 12 men’s basketball programs, will use November 3 as an official day off in order to participate as a voter.
“It has been an honor to work with our student-athletes on this progress,” said Julian Jones, Assistant A.D. for Student-Athlete Development/Chief Diversity Officer. “They have all stepped up and utilized their platforms for the betterment of K-State, and I am proud of them for that. We have made great strides in our Diversity and Inclusion plan as a department and look forward to continuing to work with our staff and coaches in providing the best environment possible for our student-athletes.”
Recently, the department has completed numerous other initiatives that have contributed to its Diversity and Inclusion programming and role in social justice, including:
· Assistant A.D. for Student-Athlete Development Julian Jones has added the role of Chief Diversity Officer for the department and been named to the Senior Staff.
· Adding and naming Abigail Archibong (volleyball) as the SAAC Diversity Equity and Inclusion Executive Officer and Tyler Burns (football) as the chair of the newly formed Student-Athlete Social Justice Action Committee.
· Created a department-wide Diversity and Inclusion Staff Action Committee.
· Held a Black Lives Matter educational panel with Ahearn Fund donors.
· Held individual team Diversity and Inclusion education sessions.
· Supported local black-owned businesses through social media awareness and posts. K-State Athletics Women Leaders donated $1,120 to Help Lake Street Clean-up & Rebuild efforts and Douglass Community Rec Center.
· Held Unity games at home competitions for men’s basketball and soccer to celebrate diversity and inclusion.
“I am excited to help make K-State a better place – an environment where people from all different backgrounds feel welcomed,” said Archibong. “We want to continue to build knowledge, skills and retention surrounding all of our Diversity and Inclusion events, and I look forward to continuing to develop collaborative relationships and taking forward steps with all diverse groups in our athletics community.”
“We must keep working to raise awareness about the racial injustices of the past and those that are still present today,” Burns said. “I see this as an opportunity to restore justice to our country from our hateful history, starting with our University. Indifference about issues of social justice is not okay, and all people deserve love and respect no matter their color of skin, their gender, or choices of beliefs and religion.”
“This is just the beginning,” added Taylor. “We are committed to diversity and inclusion and for improving the overall experience for not only our black students but all of our student-athletes. K-State is a special place, and it is only going to get better.”