On Sunday, the Athletes of Color Coalition (AoCC) released a list of demands for diversity reform in the athletic department. These include mandated race education for teams and an athletics-specific bias reporting process. The AoCC began circulating a petition, which invites community members to express support for these demands. The petition had gathered close to 800 signatures as of Thursday night.
The AoCC’s proposals, detailed in a Google document linked in the petition, fall within six categories: training, coaches, recruiting, representation, student support and transparency. The document also includes a timeline laying out when the AoCC expects these changes to be implemented.
The AoCC is demanding that all athletic teams suspend their organized workouts and activities “until they have had frequent conversations on race.” Additionally, the AoCC is requesting that all athletic teams be required to engage in meaningful conversations on race every year, similar to the annual anti-hazing training teams already participate in.
“While these hazing talks are essential and ensure the safety of new members entering teams, it is necessary to also mandate education on race to ensure the safety of the members that are in the racial minority of these teams,” writes the AoCC in its petition.
The AoCC is also asking that coaches, as well as team captains, participate in allyship training, noting that there are only three coaches of color across all athletic teams. To this end, the AoCC is calling for more diversity in coaching staffs and for a representative from the AoCC to sit on the hiring committee.
The AoCC also hopes to improve diversity on teams and is calling on the athletic department to recruit more athletes of color, especially from outside of New England, and to provide more financial support for low-income athletes who wish to visit campus.
Additionally, the AoCC is demanding more visibility on campus, through, for example, a representative on Bowdoin Student Government (BSG).
The Coalition is also requesting a specific reporting process within the athletic department for instances of racial bias. They cite results from a recent survey of athletes of color that point to the frequency of these incidents on athletic teams as a reason for this new reporting process.
“Athletes of color often feel unsafe going to the deans with a report of racial bias because they will likely be singled out as the one who reported an incident because of the small number of athletes of color on each team,” writes the AoCC, noting that many athletes do not report these incidents at all.
Finally, the AoCC is pressuring the athletic department to release a yearly report detailing their efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, as well as a full report in four years that will examine overall trends within the department.
“For so long, no changes have been made within the athletic department and we, the Bowdoin Athletes of Color Coalition, are the first ones attempting to make Bowdoin more inclusive,” the document concludes. “AoCC would like to be included in the conversation about change; we will not be shut out. We ask for accountability, transparency and an open line of communication to ensure that change will happen.”