The Big Ten Conference has developed a program to educate student-athletes on the voting process and encourage them to vote in the November election.
Monday's announcement of the Voter Registration Initiative coincided with the release of the members of the Big Ten Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition. The coalition planning process began in February, with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren officially announcing its formation June 1 — following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
“The events in our country and around the world during the past few months have strengthened my fundamental belief in our need to develop tangible and actionable efforts in a collective manner and provide viable solutions addressing the issues of hate and racism in our society,” Warren said in Monday’s release. “We have the distinct opportunity and responsibility through our Coalition to continually encourage, educate and empower our student-athletes as we embrace transparent and much-needed dialogue regarding meaningful issues that have impacted race relations for many years.”
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The coalition’s goal is to find tangible ways to combat racism and hate while also empowering student-athletes to speak out and protest peacefully. Athletes are part of the coalition, teaming up with coaches, athletic directors, chancellors and presidents as each of the conference’s 14 universities are represented.
Warren said that the Voter Registration Initiative encouraging athletes to vote was a natural, tangible way to make an impact. The Voter Registration Initiative will begin in July, with monthly educational programming continuing through the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“The right to vote is the most important right in our democracy,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which has teamed up with the Big Ten for this initiative. “Student-athletes have unique platforms that can be used to educate and activate students all across the country. I am excited to partner with Commissioner Kevin Warren and the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition to help promote civic participation and ensure that the voices of all student voters are heard this election season.”
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