CofC Athletics creates Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Action Council

Updated: Oct. 7, 2020 at 1:34 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The College of Charleston Athletics Department has a new council they say will continue their commitment to celebrate diversity.

College officials say the goal of the Inclusion, Equity & Diversity Action Council is to continue developing an inclusive culture within the athletics department through additional training opportunities.

The council is made of administrators, coaches and staff. The department is working to tackle issues together that might otherwise be divisive.

The Associate Athletics Director for External Operations Jamaal Walton says the council was created from a desire to take action.

“With all of the social injustices that were happening, our Athletics Director Matt Roberts had a conversation, we wanted to do something that provided some action on campus and within our athletic department," Walton said.

Walton says the council is focusing on areas including race, gender orientation, sexual identity, mental health, employee recruitment and employee retention.

“We want to make sure we have an inclusive environment at all times within our athletic department," Walton said.

The council will also have diversity and inclusion training for coaches and staff.

The council of adults are working in partnership with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee known as SAAC. Senior softball student-athlete Kylie Burke and sophomore baseball student-athlete Sajon Belser are part of SAAC.

“I think this council has a really good opportunity to enact a lot of change and hopefully create not just small instances that just cause change now, but hopefully leave a lasting impact," Burke said. "

The College says they have more than 350 student-athletes who represent 26 countries and many ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds.

“We want everybody to feel welcomed and basically loved and we can only do that through unity," Belser said.

SAAC has organized voter registration drives, provided food for students in need and more. The council and SAAC are providing opportunities for athletes to share their voices when it comes to racism and social injustices.

“I think that’s the biggest thing about this is just if you don’t agree with somebody just try to talk it out," Belser said. "Try to find a middle ground so you can move forward.”

The athletics department says it recognizes that diversity is an essential component in understanding culture, space, embodied experience and human values.

“Our athletics department embraces a culture of diversity, inclusion and respect,” Director of Athletics Matt Roberts said. “I am proud of the leadership role our student-athletes, coaches and staff continue to take – on our campus and in our community. We will continue to value, expand and learn from the diversity of our community to make the College of Charleston a better place for all.”

Over the last three semesters, coaches and staff members have been involved in diversity and education training.

“We know that when we come together as a team we come together for one thing, which is to win," Walton said. "I think in this case we’re coming together to unite to move forward.”

You can learn more about the Inclusion, Equity & Diversity Action Council and other efforts underway at the College of Charleston here.

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