Established nearly 18 months ago, the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee is composed of student-athletes, athletic department staff members and coaches and is focused on collaboration between different entities on campus to create safe spaces for those who want to grow as an inclusive community.
Funded by the athletic department, the committee came together to acknowledge and celebrate marginalized groups at Long Beach State.
“We’re doing good things but we can do more,” Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee said. “We created this committee close to two years ago, it was organic and we hadn’t had it before. Ultimately I believe in empowering our student athletes to practice free speech and to protest for [what] they feel is right.”
In the last year, the athletic department sent out two surveys to all 400 Beach athletes to gauge their feelings on diversity and inclusion within the department, of them, 310 responded.
Stephanie Baugh, assistant director of student athlete development, said she is proud that the committee and athletic department is moving toward being more inclusive.
Partnering with Travis Tamasese, chief of staff of student affairs, and Kerry Kilma, assistant director of assessment and evaluation, the committee strives to l create spaces and programs for the Beach athletic department to learn, grow and communicate as an inclusive community.
“When Andy first got here this was really important to him, we first started this process using data we [got] from our surveys to get feedback,” Baugh said. “Athletics is emotionally involved. We are fundamentally emotional.”
One of the committee’s goals is to bring the student athletes on campus together to learn about each other’s backgrounds and cultures, all while celebrating their differences.
In a time of civil unrest due to police brutality, athletes on campus feel a “very different type of emotion,” according to the chair of the committee and women’s track and field head coach LaTonya Sheffield.
“Athletics in general are a unifying entity,” Sheffield said. “To celebrate means that they recognize, respect, applaud and support our differences in different communities. It’s always wonderful when you know more about the differences than only acknowledging you and yourself.”
In an effort to maintain transparency within the Beach athletics department, the committee intends to have the coaching staff involved in the discussions in addition to all student athletes.
The committee also plans to send messages to local communities to ensure that CSULB is a safe and nurturing space for student athletes to “launch into their greatness” once after graduation.
“We are working to collectively raise our cultural competencies so that we can create a very inclusive environment and be great support to one another,” Baugh said. “We can create an environment that’s welcoming to all our student athletes, they can come and be a part without having to edit themselves.”
Jacob Powers, sports editor, contributed to this article.