In November, the Athletics Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee held two events to bring awareness to the committee; a potluck in collaboration with the Donahue Institute for Equity and Social Justice and a field day.
Head Cross Country and Track and Field Coach Ben Biello is the advisor for the committee and said the events are a way to let the community know the committee exists so they can do more initiatives in the second semester. While the committee has two representatives from each sport, it is also open to any community member to join.
The potluck was held in the Intercultural Center and Commuter Cottage (IC3) and received great feedback, according to Assistant Director of Intercultural Engagement and Commuter Life Alanis Perez-Rivera. Perez-Rivera said athletes in attendance said athletics and the Donahue Institute for Equity and Social Justice should collaborate more.
“It was great for everyone who attended to get to learn about and try dishes from different cultures,” Perez-Rivera said. “I think it is also important to have events like this so that students can meet new people and gain friends they may otherwise not cross paths with on campus. I hope the takeaway of this event for folks was simply feeling togetherness and community at Lasell as well as making connections with new people outside of their initial circles.”
Biello also said the feedback was good. “It was a lot of sports teams but there was definitely community members there that were not a part of any sports team. But they loved it. I mean, we had far more people than we thought would come,” Biello said.
Because of the large attendance, many people grabbed their food and left, something Biello wants to address with the next iteration of the event, hopefully happening next semester. “We wanted to, like, sit down and talk about like, you know, do some sort of, discussion around like cultural diversity and that type of stuff,” Biello said. “So I think going forward and when we do it again, we’ll do it in de Witt, have everyone grab their food, sit down and then we can talk about it, kind of have a speaker on stage or something.”
In addition to these events this semester to bring awareness to the committee, Biello said past events included a dodgeball tournament, an interview project with Campus Police about different DEI topics, and three themed weeks in collaboration with the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), a Mental Health Awareness Week, a Minority Health Awareness week, and a Celebrate Diversity Week.
Biello said the Campus Police project highlighted areas where there is work to be done and emphasized DEI is ongoing.
“We always want to continue that conversation and you know, yeah, I think that the big thing is just talk about things and bring things to light and bring things to people’s attention. And always know that we can always do things better and continue to grow and change and push things in the right direction at this university,” Biello said. “I think there’s areas that, maybe get more swept under the rug and we want to bring light to those things and bring light to those issues and, you know, put them front and center and, and kind of then, you know, say, ‘hey, we’re working on this, we’re growing because, you know, no one’s perfect.’”
Perez-Rivera gave praise to the student athletes that made the potluck possible.
“Our student athletes are amazing, the way they showed up and showed out and brought lots of food was so admirable and heartwarming. They brought energy and positivity,” Perez-Rivera said. “I asked Coach Biello how he managed to get so many athletes to come through and he gave them all the credit. They just wanted to make it a great event, they committed to showing up and contributing and that is exactly what they did.”
Biello echoed Perez-Rivera and said the committee does all the hard work.
“They’re all great individuals who really kind of stepped up to the plate this year to help lead the E-Board and have just really taken charge of the committee this year and push things forward,” Biello said about the students on the committee, “That’s all I’m really there for is like, to facilitate things happening, but they’re really in charge of this committee.”