Social justice has been a major topic for the past few months in the United States. It has reached campus, as student athletes have come together to form a group called Athletes Fighting Injustice.
The athletic department hosted a racial justice forum in July for athletes, which is what inspired some to create the AFI.
“All of the athletes thought that they needed to do more. More can come from this, it’s a great start, but there needs to be more opportunities for conversation in regard to racial justice,” said softball pitcher Jazmyn Martinez, a senior. “After the forum ended, an email was sent out inquiring whether or not people would want to get more involved and now here we are.”
The main agenda of the group is to try to bring awareness to the problems that are ongoing in the country and campus. The goal is also to get more people involved in spreading the message and eventually making a change, according to soccer defender Felicia Laguerre, a sophomore.
AFI came about after the “Owls Stand Together Against Racism” virtual forum on July 7. Athletes then asked about how they could become more involved.
The group included both Martinez and Laguerre but also Madeline Sweeney and Taylor Davis from women’s soccer, Jayden Delaporta from softball, Elijah Ortiz, Jalen Coleman, Jack Brown and Dan Perusina from men’s track and field, Grace Conselyea and Julia Schaff from field hockey, and Krishnalei So’oto and Niah Mesidor from volleyball.
One advantage AFI has is that they are student athletes and could potentially garner more attention than a normal student would, according to Laguerre.
“I think because we are athletes, I think we should be using that to our advantage because the school’s already not a huge on-campus population, so just being an athlete alone you can get that extra attention needed to get the message out even more and let it spread,” said Laguerre.
Martinez, who also spoke at the Sept. 17 panel, “From Talk to Activism,” in support of Black Lives Matter and racial justice, said how successful professional athletes have been in bringing more attention to racial injustices using the platforms given to them and that Southern athletes should follow suit.
AFI has been meeting regularly to discuss different ways of spreading their desired message across campus.
They are planning a movie screening for any athlete that would like to attend in the next week or so, signaling the start of AFI hosting events, according to Laguerre.
All events hosted by the group will be focused on bringing awareness to racial and social justice being student-athletes, but also bigger issues that impact society.
Another strategy the group will utilize is putting up infographics depicting their cause and message around the campus to catch students’ attention and potentially recruit new members.
AFI has also created an account on Instagram under the handle: @scsu_afi.
Members of AFI made sure to mention that it may have been started by athletes but is open to other students too.
In terms of how long the group will be present on the campus, Martinez hopes it will be continued by other athletes in the future.
“I feel that it will stay around long term and that it should. It shouldn’t just be a one-semester, one-year thing. I feel that this is what is needed for Southern and this is a great way for us to get further involved with the community,” said Martinez.
Not only does the group consist of athletes, coaches have joined the AFI as well, including Assistant Volleyball Coach Marshay Greenlee.
“The athletes have done such a good job at putting all of this together,” said Greenlee, “and they came up with the group’s mission and message on their own and I am very proud of that.”
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