We are heartbroken once again. The horrific violence in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas has left us reeling. As was the case with the hateful and tragic attack in Orlando, NIRSA grieves with and offers our condolences to the families and communities affected. Sadly, these incidents represent only a handful of the violent tragedies taking place within our communities and around the world. However, we must also recognize the larger, systemic injustices from which many of these acts of violence stem. Racism and prejudice are not things of the past, nor are they acceptable for our future. If we do not speak out about these things, if we do not take action, we are at risk of becoming numb to such atrocity.
Our Association was founded on principles of inclusion, which are articulated in our history, mission and vision, strategic plan, and values. Healthy people and healthy communities are not possible without full and complete equity for all. In 2013, NIRSA took this commitment even further through its adoption of a Statement for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We have a duty to ensure that statement is more than just words on a page.
NIRSA’s commitment to inclusion also necessitates modeling civil discourse and critical thinking. We know the students and staff we serve may be navigating these events with uncertainty. We, ourselves, might be doing the same. As the current, polarizing climate threatens to shut down paths to dialogue and real change, we hope NIRSA members will choose to articulate our values rather than inflammatory rhetoric and sound-bites.
Our Association’s long-term plan of action centers on facilitating our members’ abilities to champion the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Recently, the NIRSA Board of Directors acted to fund the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Commission in their next phase of work to develop resources, toolkits, and curriculum for campus recreation professionals to use individually and within their departments.
Our more immediate plan is to begin cultivating resources via social media, NIRSA Connect, and regional newsletters. These will range from information on self-care during times of trauma, to articles facilitating further information on the issues, to ideas on inclusive leadership. Additionally, our many education events this fall also present opportunities for in-person dialogue and discussion.
We acknowledge that the path to change is hard, not everyone will find the same value in every resource we provide, and we might misstep from time to time. However, the fear of occasionally getting it wrong should never stop us from trying to do what is right.
As we go forward, we welcome any input or resources you might have. We also want to extend a sincere offer to listen to anyone who wants to be heard. To borrow from our NIRSA President’s blog, we are the humans of NIRSA—together we can make a difference.