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Redbird Athletics reveals plan for social change

Written by on August 31, 2020

Photo courtesy ISU Facebook Page

NORMAL, Ill. – The Illinois State Athletic Department released their Plan for Social Change Monday afternoon, Aug. 31, 2020.

The department claims that Illinois State athletics is committed to responding to the list of demands put out by Redbird student-athletes on Sunday via social media.

There will be a virtual forum tomorrow night, Sept. 1,2020 from 8 to 9 on Zoom that’s only open to student-athletes. This will be in cooperation with Interim Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion Doris Houston. The forum will give student-athletes the chance to speak about their experiences with equity, social justice, and inclusion within athletics and across our campus.

In addition, Athletic Director Larry Lyons and his administrative staff will go through the “Race and Cultural Diversity in American Life and History” educational program, effective immediately.

Starting in mid-September, Lyons, all athletic administrators and coaches will be required to take part in an education program that will focus on diversity, equity and anti-racism. In addition, there will be a series of follow-up coaching sessions to ensure ongoing growth and development.

Lyons will set aside weekly “drop-in” office hours to engage with individual student-athletes and teams to better understand their experiences.

ISU Athletics will form a “Student-Athlete Action Team for Social Change” made up of representatives from student-athlete populations across the diversity spectrum. They will meet monthly to develop short-term and long-term actionable goals and objectives that promote social justice, equity and inclusion.

Other groups and positions they hope to establish are the: Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) diversity position on the SAAC Executive Board, a diversity, equity and inclusion graduate assistant position and a LGBTQ+ support group.

ISU Athletics hopes to plan multiple Diversity, Equity and Inclusion educational sessions for student-athletes in the form of speakers, seminars, webinars, former student-athletes and more. They are also committed to reviewing Athletic Department hiring practices to create a more diverse and equity-minded staff.

Additional forms of support include hiring a therapist this fall to provide counseling and mental health services to student-athletes of color and increase support and promotion from the administration and coaches of the NEST (New Environment Strengthening Traditions) support group, which is a safe spot to have dialogue and talk about shared experiences.

This plan hopes to move ISU Athletics toward the goal of unity, understanding, and healing.