The Bowdoin Student Athletic Advisory Committee (BSAAC) recently participated in the NCAA’s National Diversity and Inclusion Social Media Campaign by posting statements on its Instagram page in support of creating more inclusive collegiate athletic environments. The campaign currently has more than ten thousand posts on Instagram. This is the first year that BSAAC posted along with the campaign in the five years the NCAA has hosted it.
BSAAC comprises athletes who work with administration, the athletic departments and each athletic team in an effort to provide a voice to the athlete community. The committee’s long term goals this year include promoting inclusivity among athletic teams and around campus.
“We thought it would be a very proactive and productive way to make some change within our community,” BSAAC social media chair Bobby Pearl ’23 said. “I think we want to make our stance pretty clear to not only athletes, but also to the entire Bowdoin community that we would really like to foster a bunch of change and growth for the greater common good for our campus.”
As part of the first day of the campaign, known as “Exploring my Identities,” BSAAC posted a clip of different Bowdoin athletes talking about how they are more than just a student-athlete. Some of the responses included that they are an artist, a multilingual Mainer, a mentor, a woman in stem and more.
“I feel like a lot of the work that BSAAC does sometimes goes unnoticed, in the sense that people are in their own world. Student athletes have a lot of responsibilities with sports, academics and extracurricular activities,” Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) chair member Jai DuVal ’23 said. “The social media campaign is a way to remind student athletes that we’re here to support them and all of their differing identities.”
DuVal believes campaigns like these are important, and that in her two years on campus, she already has noticed athletes shifting toward a more inclusive environment.
“I think that after the death of George Floyd, everything shifted, not just in athletics, and in conversations around athletics, but school-wide conversations started happening. The athletic department actually makes every single team sit down once a month and have a conversation that can be about race, gender or sexuality,” DuVal said. “Things have shifted in a sense that we’re having these conversations that are mandatory for teams, which I think is the right way to go.”
Some other projects on the agenda for the BSAAC this year include working toward a no pay to play initiative, which would focus on limiting or removing any fees associated with athlete participation, hosting another learn to swim day, which the committee hosted for the first time last year, as well as trying to connect the DEI chair’s work with environmental sustainability.
“A couple of things that are in the works right now are a school wide mixer, where the social houses are involved. I think everyone really appreciates one another and to lessen that gap between the [athlete and non-athlete] groups, it would be very important in making [Bowdoin] a better place,” Pearl said.
The committee aims to continue promoting these conversations over the course of the year, most immediately through gathering alumni stories to campaign for No Hate November in coordination with the Athletes of Color Coalition.