Cambridge, MA (October 13) — As part of the kick-off for the 2020-21 academic year, MIT student-athletes joined Social Justice Educator Jen Fry for a 90-minute discussion titled Invisible Playbook: How to Create a Culture of Inclusive Excellence. The discussion examined how race, ethnicity, and athletics are intertwined and offered strategies for student-athletes to develop an anti-racist culture within their own teams and across MIT.
“We are grateful to have had Jen Fry with us to begin the year by leading our student-athletes, coaches and administrators through very important conversations regarding the racial injustice impacting our society and the personal responsibility we have as change agents within our respective spheres of influence,” said Dr. G. Anthony Grant, MIT Director of Athletics/DAPER Department Head. “Conversations about race and social justice are challenging and uncomfortable, however the resources that Jen provided through her presentation and ‘playbook’ provides us with a common language and a framework for taking the steps necessary to not only cultivate an anti-racist environment within DAPER, but also throughout our institution, and the broader community.”
Following the presentation, MIT Athletics solicited feedback from several student-athletes who are part of DAPER’s Levitch Leadership Laboratory (L^3), formerly known as the Student-Athlete Leadership Program (SALP), to get their perspective on the event and share their own takeaways.
Women’s Basketball team member Sienna Williams ‘23, who is also the leader for the newly-formed Social Justice Committee within L^3, reflected that now more than ever is a time that student-athletes are looking to be a force for positive change.
“In light of more social media attention about systemic racism and how to be anti-racist, I think a lot of the athletics community really wants to do something,” she said. “The Social Justice Committee will be a way for those student-athletes who have this desire to be more anti-racist to use their resources in a way that will benefit the athletic community and the entire MIT community.”
Becca Shaw, the Special Assistant to the Athletics Director/Department Head who works closely on L^3 programming, agreed, stating that the goal of the presentation was for student-athletes to walk away with tangible skills to take back to their teams and that L^3 will use the ideas from the presentation as a framework for continued work on creating an anti-racist culture within MIT Athletics and the greater MIT Community.
“Personally I am excited to see the ideas that the student-athletes come up with,” added Shaw, who went on to point out that this committee’s future collaboration with DAPER’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will be key to creating a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse community within MIT Athletics.
You can hear more feedback on Jen Fry’s presentation from our student-athletes by watching the video on the MIT Athletics YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty-L98OHeV0&feature=emb_title.