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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Athletics department announces new diversity, equity and inclusion plan


SJU Athletics announced a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Plan on Sept. 14 to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the department.

The four-part plan includes an SJU Athletics voting campaign for the 2020 election, an athletics leadership academy, a diversity and inclusion curriculum and the addition of a diversity, equity and inclusion section on It will serve as a complement to the university’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Overview, which was issued in July and August 2020. This serves as “a road map for all constituents on how SJU Athletics will foster a diverse and inclusive environment,” according to the action plan.

Director of Athletics Jill Bodensteiner, J.D., said this new plan, “is among the most important initiatives of my relatively brief tenure at St. Joe’s.”

“A part that I’m really excited about is to get to know each other better,” Bodensteiner said. “During these dialogues some LGBTQ members on our staff have said ‘How much better could I make a student-athlete’s life if they knew my LGBTQ story?’”

Bodensteiner said she is grateful for the hard work that Christina Foggie, director of special projects, did to spearhead the new initiative for the athletics department.

“[Foggie] brought it all together,” Bodensteiner said. “Sometimes you can feel like there’s a million things on a white board and someone’s got to pull it together into a plan. That’s really [Foggie].”

Foggie said this action plan is not just key for the athletic department, but should also impact everyone at St. Joe’s.

“[This action plan] is extremely important for anyone who is going to be a part of St. Joe’s athletics,” Foggie said. “But we wanted a plan that was for anyone who is considered a ‘Hawk,’ and to be a ‘Hawk’ is anyone that’s a student-athlete, faculty, staff, fan and alumni.”

Another member of the action plan’s working group is John Hampton, assistant head coach of the St. Joe’s women’s basketball team. Hampton said a lot of student-athletes helped to formulate this plan.

“You have to love these young people,” Hampton said. “They’re brave, they’re courageous, and they have a lot of confidence. The biggest thing that stood out to me was their fearlessness to speak up, being very passionate about creating change in their own programs and wanting to learn more.”

But for Hampton, and many other coaches, faculty and student-athletes on the working group, to be a part of these conversations and see the changes in culture is incredible to see.

“It has been great to be a part of those conversations,” Hampton said. “The one thing that has been underestimated is [the athletics department’s] ability to communicate these sensitive and emotional topics. And bringing that back to their teams so they can ultimately grow and learn how to work together during these tough times.”

While the action plan is vital to set guidelines for inclusion and diversity throughout the athletics department, Bodensteiner said it comes down to the hard work that everyone must do to implement these best practices.

“No plan is going to create a welcoming environment [for all student-athletes] unless the people do the work,” Bodensteiner said. “It starts with educating one another and being willing to have open and difficult conversations.”

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