Over the past few months, the UNITAS Initiative run by the Athletics Department, has taken various actions to support social justice movements and improve as a department in order to make student-athletes feel safe and respected at the University. Student-athletes have been given the platform to speak about topics that they are passionate about and a safe space to do so.
This past weekend, Villanova Athletics had a “UNITAS Walk” scheduled for Sunday afternoon, but due to inclement weather conditions, it was forced to cancel the event.
This event was meant to unite athletes to show support for a common goal to ignite change across the Villanova community. The walk was set to travel around the campus grounds and demonstrate the united front that the Athletic Department represents.
In an email to all student-athletes, Athletic Director Mark Jackson encouraged the students to “not let the weather dampen the spirit of UNITAS as we start the week.”
Jackson made it clear that the UNITAS commitment should be a part of everyday life, and this does not stop simply because the event was cancelled.
Jackson explained that the intent of the walk “was to display the strength of our unified Villanova Athletics community as we approach a very divisive Presidential election this week.”
In a political and social climate as divided as it is currently in the United States, it is more important than ever for student athletes to use their voices and have this safe space to discuss various issues.
Monday was UNITAS Day for the Athletic Department, a day when all faculty and athletes were asked to wear their UNITAS shirts as a sign of solidarity and take part in events throughout the day.
As a part of UNITAS Day, the Athletic Department hosted an event in the O’Dea Athlete Lounge, where student-athletes could go and talk to their peers and faculty members about any fears or emotions that they were having surrounding the election.
As the mission statement says, the UNITAS Initiative is in place to create “meaningful collaboration so that we may better craft an Athletic Department that is welcoming and nurturing for all of our student-athletes.”
This collaboration is fostered best through events, such as the one held on Monday, where the athletes and faculty members can have open and honest conversations about raw emotion and opinions.
The Athletic Department will continue to hold events in the future, working to continuously grow and improve its policies to better support the student athletes.
Additionally, student-athletes were encouraged to vote on Election Day in any way they could. After the small amount of young voters that participated in the 2016 election, the University was looking to get more young voters involved this year. Villanova Athletics teamed up with Let’s Vote Nova, a campaign spearheaded by SGA that helped all students vote and get access to voting information.
Even though the UNITAS event on Sunday was unable to take place, the Villanova Athletics community still tried to show their solidarity for the event and continue the momentum forward with new social justice initiatives.