Last week was the first ACC Unity Week, an event designed to help promote awareness about racial inequality and social justice throughout its member institutions.
This promotion was designed primarily around daily unity themes, as well as a virtual webinar for student athletes that worked to promote racial justice.
The Institute, being a member of the ACC, participated in the Unity Week, most notably at the ACC Cross Country Championships last Friday, and at the Tech vs. Notre Dame football game last Saturday.
In a video produced for the event, student-athletes discussed what unity meant to them both on Tech’s campus and throughout the country as a whole.
“To me, unity is about acceptance of others and also about coming together for a common goal for the greater good,” said Grace Rigsbee, 4th-year LMC and a senior on the volleyball team.
Kierra Fletcher, 4th-year HTS and senior on the women’s basketball team, added, “My vision of unity on campus is truly all of us coming together as one and starting to make a change for the world because we are at Georgia Tech, and we can do big things here.
“And in our country, I would say the same thing,” she said. “just accepting one another for our differences no matter our background, economic status, race, gender, sexuality.”
Mikaila Dowd, a 3rd-year BMED on the volleyball team, stated that unity for her meant that “I can look at the person next to me and be okay with us having absolutely nothing in common, you know, coming from different backgrounds, looking completely different, having different cultures, speaking different languages and still respect them and want them to be successful and to do everything in my power to make sure they can achieve whatever they can.”
ACC Commissioner John Swofford highly praised the event at a recent press conference.
“I applaud the work of CORE (Champions of Racial Equality) and our member institutions to develop Unity Week into a meaningful and fulfilling week to unite around social justice for all, and eliminate systematic racism,” Swofford said.
“College sports provide a unique opportunity to bring people together from all backgrounds and celebrate the accomplishments on and off the playing field of our student-athletes.”
The Institute also seemed to take a great interest in the event.
Teams competing during the week were given patches to wear on their uniforms in honor of the event, and buttons featuring Tech’s Unity Emblem were available for sale for $5.
In addition, the Institute’s diversity, equality and inclusion advisory council worked in conjunction with the student athlete advisory board.
Their goal was to promote the event through social media outreach initiatives and Unity Week recognition throughout the week.
The two also worked to put on the Coffee With A Cop event in order to help promote an open dialogue between members of the Tech community and the Institute’s police force.
To close out the week, the Georgia Tech Athletics Association (GTAA) introduced its new diversity, equity and inclusion pledge. GTAA pledges to support Tech student athletes to become leaders and catalysts of social change.
“Georgia Tech student-athletes have a unique opportunity to unite our community and our society. Not only do they have an exceptional platform, but as athletes, they get to experience the miracle of team — where differences do not matter. Therefore, they are examples of what our society can be,” reads the pledge, which can be found on the GTAA website.
Unity Week was a successful endeavor by all accounts, and plans are currently in place to hold similar weeks for both winter and fall sports as well.
This helps to ensure that attention remains around ensuring lasting change occurs in the not only in the name of progress but also in the name towards racial equality.