Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Swarthmore’s Athletics department has a new campaign called Rise Up, designed to promote diversity and inclusivity within the athletics community and the campus as a whole. The campaign is an effort conceived by the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and it was officially launched at the annual pep rally last Friday.
“Not only does [the campaign] represent rising up above our competitors on the field or court but also rising up with diversity, making our community on campus as inclusive as possible,” said field hockey player and SAAC member, Ainsley Parrish ’16.
In accordance with the goals of the Rise Up campaign, the pep rally celebrated not only athletics but other campus groups as well.
“In planning the pep rally this year we wanted to incorporate different groups like Sixteen Feet and RNM, and in doing that we wanted to introduce our Rise Up campaign as a campaign to bring the whole campus together,” said women’s soccer player and SAAC treasurer, Julia Murphy, ’15. “We tried to find ways to integrate the wonderful parts of Swarthmore into… the very kind of set-in-stone idea of a pep rally,” she said.
Following the pep rally, all student athletes wore orange shoelaces in their shoes during their games on Saturday as a representation of the new movement. Orange, according to SAAC, is recognized as the color of diversity. However, the shoelaces are only the start of what SAAC promises to be a far-reaching and dedicated campaign.
According to Murphy, the committee wanted to find a way to do something positive for the Swarthmore community after what they saw as a tumultuous spring semester.
“We felt like we could kind of jump ahead of new problems by starting something to join the whole campus together,” she said. “Our idea is to bring all of Swarthmore together as a team. We think athletics is a good example because you might not always agree with your teammates and you might not always have the exact same opinions as your teammates, but you have to learn to work together for a common goal.”
“I think right now, as a community we’re not really together as one, and the campaign can serve as a bridge to mend the separation. Its purpose is to bring the campus together and I truly think if we are open minded this campaign can help,” Parrish said.
SAAC has yet to announce its plan as to how the Rise Up campaign will go beyond orange shoelaces.
When asked about the campaign, athletes and non-athletes expressed mixed opinions.
“I think it’s cool. I think the more communities that embrace awareness about diversity the better. I think its great for the athletic community to dispel the notions that athletes don’t care about these issues,” said Salman Safir ’16.
Men’s tennis player Thomas Vernier ’17 was more pessimistic. “It shows that the community is clearly looking to continue its tradition of tolerance,” Vernier said, “but we haven’t talked much about the actions we are going to take. We’ve just talked about the laces, which seems a little superficial. If it’s laces backed up with some other type of action that we take, it’s more significant.”
Murphy also said she wanted the campaign to have a more concrete impact. “We don’t just want it to be words without action,” said Murphy. In the future, SAAC hopes to work with other groups throughout campus to promote the message of Rise Up. According to Murphy, “[SAAC] wants to get different groups on campus to commit to going to another group’s event. So for example, the baseball team goes out and supports a theater show that one of their members is in.”
This also has another benefit, said Murphy. “It shows that a lot of athletes are involved in other things on campus. That’s another of the underlying initiatives of Rise Up, to demonstrate how involved athletes are and to highlight that collectiveness.”