The University of Indianapolis Athletic Department announced its newest committee—the UIndy Athletics Diversity and Inclusion committee on Sept. 4 on their website. Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator for Student Support Jackie Paquette said that it is allowing the student-athletes to use their voice.
“The committee was established to give our student-athletes a space in which to utilize the voice we’ve seen them have in light of the current events going on in the world,” Paquette said.
According to Cody Wainscott, sports information director and one of the committee’s advisers, the committee will be led by student-athletes who want to make a difference by serving on the committee. Following current events, such as the Black Lives Matter movement that started over the summer, Wainscott said he and Paquette decided it was time to put together a group on campus. He said that they knew the athletic department has such an impactful voice across the campus, and they began to find student-athletes who wanted to be involved.
“We [Paquette and Wainscott] [have] just been facilitating the conversation because we’ve been pretty open from the very beginning that we want the student-athletes to drive this because the student-athlete population is a lot more diverse, they’re super indulgent, they’re very outgoing and they can have a stronger voice … [that] would mean more rather than [it] coming from two administrators,” Wainscott said.
Gillian Santana, a sophomore defensive specialist for the volleyball team, said that the committee wants to spread awareness of unity on campus.
“… [By] being part of an athletic team, I feel we like we can spread the word more,” Santana said.” “We have so many of us on our team that… in this group are able to spread the word to our teammates and they can spread the word onto other folks on the campus or in the community.”
According to Wainscott, acceptance is the main objective of the committee. He said that the committee started because of racial injustice and has now expanded into areas involving mental health awareness, LGBTQ+ rights and religious beliefs.
Wainscott also said that this is a time for listening and learning. During one of the committee’s meetings, Austin Bartel of the men’s lacrosse team, said that he cannot have an opinion yet because this is his time to sit back and listen, according to Wainscott.
“I think that’s… extremely important for all of us, instead of throwing our two cents in all the time, to actually to just listen and really learn and accept and empathize for other people’s beliefs no matter what they are, not even beliefs, like for just who they are as people,” Wainscott said.
The committee will hold events in the future, but much of what they are doing is in idea stages right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Paquette. She said these events will be available to everyone on UIndy’s campus and will be more of informative-based events with possible speakers or panelists.
After the committee reaches out to other campus groups, Paquette said some events may be held in conjunction with groups such as UIndy PRIDE and the Black Student Association. Paquette said whatever partnership will be about education.
“So we are just looking to sort of facilitate ways that we can educate our campus around issues currently in the world,” Paquette said.