Categorized | Sports

#oneWoo campaign promoted by student athletes

Saeed Husain
Chief Copy Editor

As part of the NCAA’s Division III athletics week, The College of Wooster’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) held the signing of the #oneWoo pledge. The pledge has been described by the group as an initiative to create dialogue amongst student-athletes about what it means to truly represent a diverse and unified community. Varsity athletes comprise one-third of Wooster’s student body.

The pledge signing was held at the Scot Center lobby on two separate days last week, where SAAC representatives were present to help people understand the pledge and talk about what else the organization was doing. Students who signed were given a button with “#oneWoo” emblazoned on it and also took pictures with their teams to promote the event.

Six promises outlined the pledge, including promises to be respectful and cognizant of others, to avoid doing or saying things that might be hurtful to someone else, to celebrate the community and diversity around us and to believe that unity gives strength.

The Voice sat down with the president of SAAC and captain of the men’s tennis team, Titas Bera ’18, to talk about the #oneWOO campaign and why it was needed.

“The campaign was necessary because there have been some incidents involving certain athletic teams with regards to respect and equality,” Bera said. “Therefore, by creating this initiative, we are laying down the groundwork to kickstart conversations amongst our teams and coaches about inclusivity and respecting one another.”

According to Bera, a sub-committee within SAAC collaborated with Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind. to develop this pledge. However, the implementation of the pledge was a team effort amongst all SAAC representatives.

Commenting on the draft process and if there were concerns from other members, Bera said that some people showed skepticism that this was just a sham signing.

“Some concerns that were raised were that this would just be another initiative where we just ‘sign a paper,’” Bera said. “However, the committee has been working hard to ensure that we as athletes take the further step throughout the next couple of years to educate our peers and teammates about this important issue.”

On the current climate amongst varsity athletes and other students at the College, Bera voiced the opinion that at Wooster, students do more than just athletics. “I think student athletes at Wooster are unique in the sense that we are all involved with much more than athletics. Therefore, we have the diversity and capabilities to expand this initiative throughout campus,” Bera said.

Bera also talked about the precedent the pledge has set. “The #oneWoo initiative has the potential to be very impactful throughout campus,” he said. “We have already met with the athletic administration and they have agreed to include the pledge signing during every team compliance meeting in the fall. This will allow senior leaders and captains to start a conversation about what it means to respect one another. This will also allow incoming first-years to understand the stance we take with regards to diversity and inclusion.”

On Sunday, a picture of the student-athlete body was also taken, with students wearing a “oneWoo” shirt. This was also the day when The College of Wooster took over the NCAC Instagram account in celebration of DIII week.

Brian Lief, a men’s track representative for SAAC, commented, “While signing this promise is important, we are hoping that this will translate into action by creating dialogue among teams. We need to continue to educate ourselves about different cultures and treat everyone with respect.”

According to SAAC, 400 students signed the pledge. For those who were unable to, they could contact their team’s SAAC representative. Multiple events throughout the fall semester will continue to promote the #oneWoo campaign.

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