Aggie Commitment aimed at diversity, inclusion

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, August 26, 2020

COLLEGE STATION — The Texas A&M Athletics Department has announced The Aggie Commitment initiative to further prioritize its standards and practices in support of Diversity and Inclusion.

Led by Deputy Athletics Director and Chief Diversity Officer Kristen Brown, as well as Associate Diversity Officer Mikado Hinson, this initiative will aim to make significant progress toward providing new opportunities for personal and professional growth and development for student-athletes and staff. It will celebrate and honor Black History at Texas A&M and continue to provide student-athletes with an unparalleled experience, all while being a change agent in the fight against injustice.

“The purpose of The Aggie Commitment is to further our efforts and ensure that we are intentionally creating a diverse and inclusive atmosphere for Texas A&M Athletics every single day,” said Director of Athletics Ross Bjork. “Combating racism, making everyone feel welcome and understanding differences is a never-ending journey and we must dedicate the right resources to hold ourselves accountable and showcase leadership within our university, our community and college athletics. The Aggie Commitment is also another step to make certain that we follow through on the pledge that we made as an athletics department in June of this year, when we asked everyone to do their part to make our society a better place.

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“I am really excited to see Kristen and Mikado expand their roles and, more importantly, use their voices as they display the right leadership and equip our program with the tools to move this initiative forward. Texas A&M Athletics is committed to the core values of the university and The Aggie Commitment is our promise for the greater good.”

Hiring, retention and representation

The Aggie Commitment will create a Committee on Diversity and Inclusion as a branch of the already existing CARE (Culture, Awareness, Respect, Equity) Committee. This group will work to review the department’s hiring practices and ensure there is diversity among candidate pools for future employment opportunities throughout the department. An effort will also be made to review the existing policies and practices to identify and correct current problems.

The initiative has already taken action in committing itself to creating a diverse work environment with a plan in place to create an additional counselor position in the Sports Psychology department and actively seek a diverse candidate pool for the position. The 12th Man Foundation has also joined the initiative and will be adding an entry-level development position with the intention of recruiting a diverse candidate pool.

Celebrating Black history and excellence

In an effort to more prominently celebrate the history of Black student-athlete success at Texas A&M, a mural will be created near the Nye Academic Center and Slocum Nutrition Center that recognizes the first Black student-athlete from each sport. A plan is also in place to designate an area of the Nye Academic Center lobby to highlight the academic accomplishments of current minority student-athletes. The Lettermen’s Lounge will see changes as well, as a Hall of Honor will be added to acknowledge former student-athletes of color and their accomplishments on and off the field.

The initiative will plan to allocate existing funds and designate them to the support of Black student-athletes who are still working toward their degree after exhausting their eligibility.

Student-athlete experience

The Aggie Commitment will put great emphasis on the student-athlete experience and look to improve A&M’s efforts to support, educate, recruit and connect Black student-athletes. The initiative will lean on the B.L.U.E.-print student organization to continue open conversations with all student-athletes across the department about race and social justice issues. It will encourage the networking and mentoring of Black student-athletes by funding opportunities for them to attend national conventions such as the Black Student-Athlete Summit, while also strengthening the relationships between current and former A&M student-athletes through the Lettermen’s Association and the Black Former Student Network.

The initiative will also empower all student-athletes to exercise their right to vote, as Student-Athlete Engagement will team up with the University to facilitate an athletics department-wide voting initiative. Each sport program will create an Election Day plan where student-athletes will have the opportunity to vote and/or participate in community service or social justice efforts/education.

Continuing education

Future plans are in place to partner with campus departments and create mandatory annual diversity training for student-athletes, coaches and staff. This training will focus on Black History, systemic racism, microaggressions, implicit bias, dispelling myths, allyship, identifying inappropriate comments and other topics. When possible, the initiative will also utilize portions of the department’s All Staff Meeting, Senior Staff meetings and Connecting Conversations through the CARE Committee to discuss relevant social justice topics.

The Athletics Department will continue to emphasize the initiatives originally stated in the petition that was initiated on June 1, 2020. All members of the Texas A&M Athletics community were encouraged to educate themselves on the history of the country, injustices and current events, engage in healthy dialogue in the community to learn about and empathize with others and help Aggie Athletics provide opportunities of growth and learning for its student-athletes, coaches and staff.

— Texas A&M Athletics