Shooting for Inclusion
How do you work to help a culture evolve into something more modern, more diverse, more inclusive?
Varsity basketball player Taylor Samuels ’20—a former All-Star high school player in Delaware—is developing that roadmap for Washington College. She was the only Centennial Conference athlete to attend the 2018 NCAA Inclusion Forum in Indianapolis last April. What she brought back may be the beginnings of a campus movement that seeks to not merely accept differences among prospective student-athletes but actively welcome and include the diversity of the campus population in all aspects of the College community.
Sarah Feyerherm, vice president for student affairs, and Kim Lessard, assistant athletic director, tapped Samuels to attend the forum with them, which keyed on “inclusive excellence.” Samuels returned with a number of practical guides and a mandate to implement initiatives as they became fleshed out.
“I really like structure, and where the forum offered programs for schools with thousands of students, they also gave us specific things to implement at a school of our size.”
Already their work has brought gender-neutral locker rooms and bathrooms to campus, but the effort isn’t only geared toward lifestyle issues; there are socio-economic, racial, political, and religious considerations to address as well.
She’s doing all this while carrying a double major in biology and psychology and a starting role as a forward on the women’s basketball team. She is extremely optimistic about this upcoming season.
“We have four freshmen who can really shoot threes, who along with our upperclassmen can allow me to play a bit more of a stretch four role,” she says, in short, giving her a chance to work inside and out.
“I’m here to take advantage of all that’s offered and give what I can add,” she says. “It doesn’t cost me any more to do all of this.”