Forum links athletics, diversity

By Nick Chuisano

William Peace University made big strides in communicating the message of equality and diversity to their student athletes during a virtual forum Sept. 1.

Stephanie Reed, director of the office of diversity and inclusion, organized the Zoom meeting called “Shut Up and Play, a Forum On Racial Justice, Athletics, and Protests.” It included staff members of the athletic department, such as the athletic director and head women’s basketball coach, that heard of and dealt with first hand experience regarding diversity and inclusion.

“This is a time for change,”  WPU Athletic Director Tom Curle said. “The time for change is now and if you want to get involved in that change, it’s our responsibility, it’s our obligation as an athletic department to support that.”

Reed said the forum responded to “the confluence of a number of issues that have brought us together as a community of learners today, to talk about what we are seeing both in the media and just in society as a whole.”

Reed hoped to bring awareness to these situations, and to gain staff members’ thoughts on everything from the boycotting of major league sports to the racism in the world to their views on handling situations as an athlete’s mentor.

“We see you more than just athletes,” Ozzy Peralta, director of athletic communications told the student athletes who attended.  “You know I can stat your games and you know make graphics after you win and stuff like that, but we see you much more than that.”

Women’s Head Basketball Coach Marquetta Dickens answered one question about her level of responsibility in ensuring equality.

“For me, I feel a higher level of responsibility of making sure I’m educated so that I can educate my student-athletes,” Dickens said.

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