A plan of action: Penn Athletics’ first steps to combat racism

Earlier this week, the Division’s senior administrators and I met virtually with approximately 30 Black student-athletes at Penn in an honest, collaborative, and impactful dialog regarding their experience as a student-athlete. As a Division, we admit we have not done enough to take an active stand against racism and are firmly committed to becoming an organization that is truly antiracist.

We are proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff who have used their voices and actions to stand up against the injustices that have plagued our society for far too long. As a Division, we believe we can be a catalyst for change locally, in the Ivy League and nationally. To create a society that treats everyone equally the change begins in our homes, in our communities, in Weightman Hall, and in the Pottruck Center, one conversation at a time.

Penn Athletics is forming a task force comprised of student-athletes, coaches, and staff to continue the fight against racism and systemic oppression of Black Americans. This task force will be charged with listening to our Black community and its allies, creating a plan, and implementing change in 2020-21 and beyond.

Our initial actions, which were identified in collaboration with our Black student-athletes are below:

  • Expand implicit bias and microaggression training to all coaches, staff and student-athletes.
  • Identify a physical and inclusive gathering place for Black student-athletes and allies within the Penn Athletics footprint to come together on a regular basis.
  • Assess how Penn Athletics can better support Black student-athletes in their academic pursuits.
  • Create a Diversity and Inclusion position on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
  • Appoint a Chief Diversity Officer for Penn Athletics and surround that individual with resources to coordinate Penn Athletics’ efforts against racism.
  • Continue efforts to hire a diverse athletics administration and coaching staff, and enhance the diversity of sports boards and our Athletics Board of Overseers.
  • Grow our current civic engagement programming with a focus on improving the social, athletic and educational experience of Black and Brown youth in the West Philadelphia community.
  • Identify and promote the historical impact of our Black alumni student-athletes and Penn Athletics Hall of Famers.
  • Use our collective voices to positively impact the University, the Ivy League and the NCAA in areas related to social justice.

I continue to be proud to stand with you as the Director of Athletics. This change will not happen overnight; however, we are committed to listening, learning, and acting in the weeks, months, and years ahead.