Northeast Conference (NEC) Commissioner Noreen Morris today introduced NEC Champions For Change to highlight a series of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives set to debut during the 2020-21 academic year.
These initiatives were passed unanimously by the Council of Presidents in support of the NEC's Strategic Plan and its goal to Support Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Ratified in the spring of 2019, the Strategic Plan included the formation of a NEC Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Subcommittee with an eye on implementing conference-wide programming and providing educational resources to enhance DE&I efforts. Of note, the NEC hosted its inaugural DE&I Summit last December with close to 100 NEC athletic administrators and campus leaders in attendance.
NEC Champions For Change is designed to be a platform for the league's student-athletes, coaches and administrators to share their experiences around social injustice and social change. The NEC will utilize its social media platforms to convey these messages as a first step towards the conference's commitment to help create impactful change within our communities.
NEC Champions For Change Topics To Be Addressed By Student-Athletes, Coaches & Staff
- How racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and/or xenophobia, etc. have impacted them personally
- Positive stories of how they have fought for change in these areas
- How they have worked with their family, friends, team(s) or school to help combat these issues
- Ways they celebrate their culture/identity
"A year ago the NEC Council of Presidents adopted a new NEC Strategic Plan that included four goals, one of which focuses on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion," said NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris. "I'm incredibly proud of the NEC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee for taking the lead on developing the concepts around NEC Champions For Change, a platform which will provide our student-athletes, coaches and administrators the opportunity to articulate their experiences around social injustice and advocate for change. We acknowledge the need for this type of platform to facilitate difficult, and often uncomfortable conversations, so that we can collectively listen, learn and act, and become an active part of the solution as opposed to silent bystanders."
Along with NEC Champions For Change, the conference will facilitate and implement the following DEI programming and initiatives:
- Adoption of a conference-wide mandate to provide all student-athletes with a day off from required athletically related activities on Election Day
- Creation of a conference-wide educational campaign focused on the importance of registering to vote and exercising one's civic duty
- Leaguewide celebration of various cultural heritage months, including Black History Month, Pride Month, Women's History Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month and Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
- Sharing of tools and resources with NEC member institutions to support campus initiatives in these areas
- Hosting a virtual speaker education series on the subject of social injustice
- Continued focus on UNITY as part of the league's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations
"Champions for Change stemmed from the NEC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's conversations on the death of George Floyd," said the NEC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisor Alexis Watson. "The SAAC expressed that our student-athletes felt they needed a voice in this area and we wanted to give them a platform to share what they are feeling, the experiences they have lived through, and how they are working to foster inclusive environments on their campus and in their communities. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share the stories of our student-athletes, coaches, and administrators through NEC Champions for Change and just as excited for all the other DEI initiatives to follow."
About The Northeast Conference
Beginning its 40th anniversary season, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout seven states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to a number of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Boston (#9), Baltimore (#26), Hartford/New Haven (#33) and Providence (#53). Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 24 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 16 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU, Merrimack, Mount St. Mary's, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league's official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, all @NECsports.