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K-State Athletics to use home games to support Black Lives Matter

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 10:36 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas State University Athletics is working to grow its social justice programming and awareness for student-athletes, coaches and staff.

Kansas State University Athletics says it is working to identify new steps as a way to grow its social justice programming and awareness for students, coaches and staff.

The department says it is the fourth year of its Diversity and Inclusion plan, which it says was created to foster an environment that embraces and celebrates diversity and promoting and practicing inclusion.

“We will not stand for social injustice,” says 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.”

K-State Athletics says the 2020-21 school year is affording it a unique opportunity to address social, with input and guidance from student-athletes, coaches and staff, it has identified some key points for progress going forward.

- Launching a Diversity and Inclusion Fund which will allow members of the university to directly support department-wide initiatives that actively seek inclusive and diverse communities through educational programming that is supported by student-athletes, coaches and staff.

- Student-athlete involvement in the Ad Hoc Board with SGA and Administration on Student Code of Conduct.

- Mandatory Diversity and Inclusion training for student-athletes, coaches and staff while also holding monthly Diversity and Inclusion town hall sessions with student-athletes.

- Continue diligent efforts to recruit broad applicants for department staff and coaching positions, such as using department personnel and national resources to create diverse hiring pools.

- Utilizing home games in all school sports to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

- Creating opportunities for all sports to foster healthy relationships and communication between student-athletes and coaches.

- Finding new channels to showcase Black History Month and highlighting black student-athletes through the department’s communication channels.

- Partnering with the Black Student Union for programming and educational opportunities with campus police and RCPD to build better relationships.

- Having voter registration sessions and education for student-athletes and providing transportation to voting polls on election day.

- Men’s basketball, along with all other Big 12 men’s basketball programs, will observe November 3 as an official day off in order to participate as voters.

“It has been an honor to work with our student-athletes on this progress,” says 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.”

The department says it has already completed other initiatives contributing to its Diversity and Inclusion programming and role in social justice, such as:

· 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,” says 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,” says Burns. “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,” saysTaylor. “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.”

More information on K-State Athletics Strategic Plan and mission and the Diversity and Inclusion Plan can be found on its website.

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