How Campus Recreation Is Addressing Equity and Diversity

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In September — as colleges and universities around the country rose to meet the challenges of reopening safely in the midst of a global pandemic — almost 800 campus recreation professionals representing about 250 NIRSA member institutions also committed to participating in a new program to create more diverse, inclusive and equitable environments on their campuses.

NIRSA's 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge for Campus Recreation, sponsored by Mondo and based on a concept introduced in 2014 by diversity expert Eddie Moore Jr., included weekly virtual small-group discussions and daily assignments featuring a mix of readings, videos and podcasts. The challenge was designed to focus on the Black American experience, and specific topics included racism at public swimming pools, uncovering implicit bias, and under-representation of Blacks and Hispanics at colleges and universities.

"The idea of taking the Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge and focusing it on the world of higher ed really was in sync with what we were hearing our members needed, and, frankly, the change we want to be in this world," says Erin O'Sullivan, NIRSA's director of advocacy and strategic partnerships, who spoke about the 21-Day Challenge on Episode 19 of The Athletic Business Podcast. "We particularly liked the challenge for its habit-building nature. We wanted to put resources into something that would provide a racial equity lens as a part of our members' daily lives, which would in turn impact their students and their communities."

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