The Bowdoin athletics department recently released its updates to the Building and Supporting an Inclusive and Diverse Athletic Community Action Plan as it enters its fourth year. The plan has released four updates since its advent in October 2020, and the athletic department plans to continue to release updates annually. Each update details the plan’s past year of programming and educational opportunities and includes data collected by end-of-season student surveys of all athletic teams.
Last year, staff and coaches attended training held by the Institute of Sport and Social Justice, and teams held monthly Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) conversations. In addition, first-year athletes and new department staff attended workshops led by anti-racism educator Jen Fry. Mental health and mindfulness practices were also underscored by workshops held by former DI athlete and educator Lani Silversides for both coaches and athletes, and former DI athlete and mental health advocate Victoria Garrick Browne came to campus to host a mental health workshop and speak to athletes.
The update included a summary of DEI survey results collected in student-athlete surveys sent out at the end of last year and information on the diversity of the Class of 2027 and the current athletics department staff. This year’s recruiting class is the third most diverse in the history of Bowdoin athletics, with 25 percent of enrolling athletes this year identifying as students of color and 54 percent residing outside of New England. The percentage of coaches and administrators of color also increased this year from 8.5 percent to 9.8 percent.
Assistant Athletic Director and DEI Coordinator Katie Greene commented on an improvement in sentiments towards DEI within the student-athlete community, including an eight percent uptick in the number of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that they can be their authentic selves as a member of their team.
“I think [the results are] just a direct correlation to the work that we’ve been doing over the last three or four years. We’ve dived headfirst into some of this DEI work and education and speakers and really expanding our comfortability with being uncomfortable in conversations. So when you look at the numbers, it really feels like a lot of that work is starting to pay off and making Bowdoin athletics more inclusive,” Greene said.
In the upcoming school year, the athletic department DEI committee intends to provide topics and guidance for teams to lead two DEI meetings per semester. The athletic department is also hosting Jalen Rose, a former NBA player, and Noelle Lambert, a former collegiate lacrosse player and competitor on the reality TV show “Survivor,” on campus this fall to speak. Both talks will be open to the public.
In the next few years, the committee hopes to expand on its ambitions to create a more inclusive community that bridges the gap between Bowdoin athletes and non-athletes.
“We really want to make sure that we continue to work as a collective unit throughout the entire college, not just athletes and non-athletes, but we want to work as a collaborative group,” Greene said.
Kristen Kinzler contributed to this report.