February being Black History Month, it is crucial to recognize the achievements and progressiveness of black culture, especially throughout Hofstra.
While Hofstra has many groups dedicated to campus diversity, its newest organization is the Black Student-Athlete Association (BSAA). Its mission is to unify and cultivate diversity by committing to celebrating Hofstra students and student athletes of color and uplifting the diverse community we live in here at Hofstra.
Liaisons for the organizations are women’s basketball team head coach Danielle Santos Atkinson and men’s basketball team head coach Speedy Claxton.
BSAA hosts many events ranging from movie nights to Black History celebrations.
Kayla Stadeker, a junior global studies student and member of the track and cross-country team, is also a member of many campus groups that promote diversity. These organizations are Black Student Union (BSU), Black Leaders Advocating for Change and the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE). Stadeker is also a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
“Some of the black athletes decided to start the organization because we wanted a space where we could come together and discuss issues that affect us as athletes at a PWI. [predominantly white institution]said Stadeker.
When asked what BSAA means to her, she replied, “To me, BSAA means being able to have a safe space where black athletes feel their peers don’t judge them.”
Charles Small, a criminology student, member of the student-athlete diversity committee and member of the wrestling team, shared his thoughts on what BSAA means to him.
“It’s a safe space for athletes,” Small said. “There aren’t very many of us on campus. It’s also a space for us just to be Black outside of the regular interactions we have on campus and to come together and share ideas. There are only two [Black athletes] on my team… there are less than three on most teams, and the majority of them are on the men’s and women’s basketball teams.”
Despite the lack of diversity when it comes to black people, Small thinks faculty and staff have done a great job of being more progressive.
“For the most part they have been very helpful to us, just being able to have the organization, to finance us and to find us sponsors,” he said.
Regarding steps taken to amplify black voices, Small said partnerships with other black associations on campus help them move forward as an organization, as they are newer than established groups such as BSU. and CCE.
Kayla Robertson, a junior communications student and member of the women’s lacrosse team, shed some light on her experiences as a member of the BSAA.
“To me, that really means a lot because, as you know, I’m on the women’s lacrosse team, and it’s not a very diverse sport… there’s only two black people in the team. team,” Robertson said. “So having an outlet and a group of people who are going through the same experience as me at the same time as other athletes of color, black athletes, means so much. I can connect with people and facilitate friendships because we all have busy schedules, so sometimes it’s hard to reach out or make friends, so it’s really special to have a sense of community in the world of student-athletes.
Robertson added that it might be difficult to have conversations about people of color when most people on campus aren’t of color. As a result, topics such as feeling lonely, non-black people saying the N-word, and not always relating to their teammates are common discussions across the organization.
Robertson also mentions that the organization has dwindled in number due to the number of graduates. “There have been ups and downs as we have grown the organization, but we have navigated through this by filling out the board and membership in general,” she said. .
“It really is a safe space, and it really means a lot to athletes of color to have a safe space on campus and to feel supported to navigate our time through Hofstra,” Robertson said of what she would like people to know about BSAA. “So to people who are maybe nervous about coming to meetings or programs or something like that, I would say give it a try. You will really see how much you miss a sense of community and people who always support you and support you no matter what.
For the most part, sports administrators have been very supportive of the BSAA and members feel their voices are being heard. BSAA is gearing up to hold more events and programs for Black athletes on campus to be more progressive.
By raising awareness of organizations like BSAA, Hofstra Athletics is doing its part by showing its continued commitment to diversity, inclusion and gender equity among student-athletes, coaches and staff.