BYU athletics participates in inclusion campaigns

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BYU has recently been an active participant in inclusion campaigns on campus. This season, the Cougars have participated in three campaigns including run for her, common ground and the NCAA diversity and inclusion.

BYU athletics participated in the first ever five-day NCAA facilitated social media campaign to promote diversity and inclusion within athletics from Oct. 1–5 with the hashtag #NCAAInclusion. This hashtag was Twitter’s eighth most trending topic in the nation the first day of the campaign, according to Yannick Kluch, a 2018–19 postgraduate intern in the NCAA Office of Inclusion. Each day of the campaign had a diversity and inclusion related theme.

(Graphic by Courtney Tietjen)

Kluch said this was the first time the NCAA has done a diversity and inclusion campaign on social media. He said the campaign had over 100,000 engagements with the hashtag, 26,800 posts that included the hashtag and 64 million people reached on Twitter alone.

“I think people are really passionate about (the campaign) and excited about it,” Klutch said. “The numbers of the campaign speak to how effective the communication lines were and how everybody played their part.”

Kluch said the campaign was initiated by the Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, and the National Student-Athlete Advisory Committees. He said the NCAA Office of Inclusion relied heavily on these organizations’ lines of communication to push out information about the campaign.

For example, Kluch said the inclusion office staff would send information to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committees, which includes one representative from each athletic conference in the country. These representatives would then take the information back to the conference offices, with conference office staff distributing the information to member schools.

BYU athletics, a member of the West Coast Conference, coordinated with athletes, coaches and administrators to post both on its Twitter and Instagram accounts during the campaign.

Kluch said the goal of the NCAA Office of Inclusion’s campaign was to start a dialogue on diversity and inclusion to increase awareness of how central they are to the student-athlete experience.

Malek Barber, Palm Beach Atlantic University basketball player and NCAA Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member, was one of the driving forces for the campaign.

“This campaign gave us student-athletes an opportunity to share our differences and to display how truly diverse we are,” Barber said. “Who student-athletes are stretches way further than just their uniform, and I appreciate this opportunity to embrace that.”

Diljeet Taylor, associate head cross country and track and field coach, participated on day three. She expressed her passion for creating a team atmosphere that celebrates diversity and inclusivity.

“Just because everyone here (at BYU) may seem similar or look similar to an outside person looking in, inside looking out we are all very different and diverse,” Taylor said. “So, I celebrate the differences my team has and make sure I’m inclusive to those differences by creating a team atmosphere and culture where we unite as one.”

Taylor said she grew up in a Punjabi household with Sikh parents who were very traditional. She also said she interacted with student-athletes of various backgrounds, cultures and religious perspectives while coaching at California State University Stanislaus. She said she believes these experiences help her as a BYU coach and in broadening others’ perspectives at BYU.

“It’s good to have those experiences because I come in with open eyes to things so much bigger than just what I see here (at BYU),” Taylor said. “Maybe not everybody has the same upbringing, so anytime you combine people with different upbringings and perspectives, it helps to expand other people’s point of view.”

One way Taylor unites her team, despite any differences, is through a common love of running and “run for her.”

Run for her is her team’s motto to run for each other and for past versions of themselves. The motto encourages team members to run for the betterment of the team as a whole and for their younger versions who fell in love with running.

In addition to “run for her” and the NCAA diversity and inclusion campaigns, BYU will be hosting the fourth annual NCAA common ground conference.

Common ground IV will take place Oct. 31–Nov. 1 on the BYU campus. The purpose of common ground is to “provide individuals at public and private colleges and universities, faith-based organizations and LGBTQ affiliations with an opportunity to discuss what makes them similar and different and how they can work more cohesively within athletics populations,” according to ncaa.org.

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