AU IDEAL created for diversity and inclusion in athletics

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Photo retrieved from: goashlandeagles.com

Members of AU IDEAL met on Zoom for one of their meetings.

Jordan Lopata

Are you an athlete and want to be more involved in things happening around campus? Do you want to leave a positive impact on relationships created at AU? Then AU IDEAL is right for you, it was created to not only talk about diversion and inclusion in athletics, but also to create a positive environment for all athletes to feel included and make a difference at AU. Headed by the assistant athletic director and senior woman administrator Elizabeth Hoge, AU IDEAL is still in the process of making a big impact on campus.

“AU IDEAL is something that we decided to start up throughout the summer as we were just kind of going through, where we saw a lot of negativity in the world. We decided that AU Ideal would be a good way to have student athletes have a platform to express ways to bring diversity and inclusivity into the forefront of athletics,” said Hoge.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial injustice that has been going on in our country, AU IDEAL was necessary for students to have a voice and be educated in the importance of diversity and inclusion not only in athletics but overall in the environment on campus.

“Originally it was just going to be called diversity and inclusion, but we liked what ideal stood for. Inclusion, diversity, equity, access and leadership, we believe that ashland student athletes are ideal athletes. We’re focusing on all sorts of diversity issues, to bring that into the forefront,” said Hoge.

The organization so far has been meeting over zoom to discuss different diversity issues, and it encourages student athletes to use their platform to speak out. “

“We’re still a new group so we’re building a base, so our first priority has really just been recruiting student athletes to join, and we’re always looking to continue to add more student athletes and more opinions to it. We have regular meetings every week, and we do some educational components to it as well,” said Hoge.

With allowing student athletes to get involved and speak up about diversity and inclusivity. Hoge talked about how IDEAL has been working with a group of athletes to become leaders in this organization. Students involved, who want to spread their knowledge of diversity are able to lead different sessions within their meetings.

“It’s open to everybody. We want to provide a platform for student athletes to use their voice and to express how they want to see the world and how they want to see Ashland as well.”

Not only have student athletes been involved in making IDEAL successful, other coaches have been involved in the meetings as well. Hoge and other administrators in the athletic department have worked with staff in the diversity and inclusion office to make this a priority as well.

“We have realized that within athletics, a large portion of our black students on campus are in athletics. So, we figured that this was a good platform to make sure that they feel recognized and have a voice, and use that voice and use that platform. Ideal is also about educating everybody on all forms of diversity and inclusion,” said Hoge.

Melan White, student athlete involved in AU IDEAL and player on the Ashland women’s lacrosse team also had insight on the importance of diversity and inclusion in athletics.

“I think it is important for a council like this to exist because athletics is a department that’s notoriously more diverse, so having a group that’s willing and able to represent people and have difficult conversations is important,” said White.

For any student athlete who wants to get involved with IDEAL and make a difference on their team and on campus as a whole, you can email Elizabeth Hoge at [email protected] She encourages any student athlete to get involved and make their voice heard to fight for diversity and inclusion in athletics.