News

Diversity in Action

by Rachel Kipp

Summer 2021

saint joseph's university student athletes standing in basketball court

The Saint Joseph’s Athletics DEI Action Plan provides a road map for all constituents on how SJU Athletics will foster a diverse and inclusive environment.

Candid conversations, ongoing training and creating new platforms for awareness are among the key tenets of Saint Joseph’s Athletics’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan.

"I am incredibly grateful to our entire department for acknowledging where we have work to do as a community and as a society, and for committing to do the work,” says Director of Athletics Jill Bodensteiner. “I'd like to express my appreciation in particular for [Director of Special Projects] Christina Foggie, who has taken on a significant leadership role in our department on issues of DEI.”

A working group of student-athletes, coaches, administrators and faculty provided input on the plan, which includes four key short- and long-term initiatives:

  • A voting initiative that complements the University’s larger election education and action plans.
  • The creation of a four-session Athletics Leadership Academy for student-athletes centered on diversity and inclusion. Participants will hold discussions and activities within their own sports between each session of the academy, which will run September to May. 
  • Organize an ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion curriculum, including roundtable discussions with the entire Saint Joseph’s athletics community. 
  • Establish a hub for DEI on the Saint Joseph’s Athletics official website. 

Our primary goal is to give student-athletes a safe space to start thinking about some ways you might be able to use your voice and some points to think about as you implement whatever form of activism speaks to you."

Jill Bodensteiner

Athletics Director

There are plans for additional initiatives beyond this academic year, including creating professional development opportunities for students of color who are interested careers in coaching or athletics administration; continuing to actively participate in the Atlantic 10 Commission on Racial Equity and implementing the action items it proposes, and integrating DEI work as part of career counseling for all student-athletes. 

As an opening event, Saint Joseph’s hosted a panel discussion on student-athlete activism on Sept. 17 that attracted more than 150 students from Saint Joseph’s, LaSalle University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City and other schools in the Atlantic 10. Speakers included former collegiate student athletes Natalie Achonwa, Kapron Lewis-Moore, and Bryce Michael Wood who have gone on to play professionally and engage in a variety of forms of activism. 

“Our primary goal is to give student-athletes a safe space to start thinking about some ways you might be able to use your voice and some points to think about as you implement whatever form of activism speaks to you,” Bodensteiner said during the event.