Sitting down to a full room, I took a deep breath and welcomed faces old and new to the first Student-Athlete Advisory Committee meeting of the year. I was pleased to see so many student-athletes in one room, ready to listen, share ideas, and create a community.
According to its website, SAAC is a national organization with a mission “to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare, and fostering a positive student-athlete image.” SAAC is the main athletics-focused student organization on Oberlin’s campus.
I have attended the group’s monthly meetings since the beginning of my sophomore year. I can remember how my first filled me with a sense of responsibility, hope, and pride for what my position as a SAAC representative would mean not only for myself, but for my softball team as well. Last Sunday, I reached a milestone that I set for myself after my very first SAAC meeting — I led the meeting as co-chair for the organization.
SAAC members on any campus have the opportunity to address issues affecting student-athletes, from mental health to gender and racial inclusivity; additionally, members have the opportunity to offer input on national issues. We have attempted to fully explore our organization’s potential by focusing on being a listening body for student-athletes with concerns, opinions, and ideas, as well as being a supportive force within the student-athlete community at Oberlin.
This year, SAAC plans on having larger, more collaborative programs in an effort to better utilize our budget and connect with other student organizations on campus.
The first large-scale program will take place the weekend of Oct. 5 and will include activities focused around President Ambar’s inauguration, the dedication of the Patricia ’63 & Merrill ’61 Shanks Health and Wellness Center, and Homecoming Weekend.
Events include an Oct. 5 watch party of President Ambar’s inauguration ceremony in the Knowlton Center at 4:30 p.m., multiple athletic competitions supporting a toiletry drive for Genesis House (Lorain County’s only domestic violence shelter) and a Power Panel in which women student-athlete alumni will speak about their experiences at and after Oberlin. Leading up to the Power Panel, SAAC will participate in a National Collegiate Athletic Association initiative to explore diversity and inclusion within the athletics community.
The initiative includes highlighting different identities of student-athletes, debunking athletics-related stereotypes, sharing facts and statistics about diversity, explaining what diversity and inclusion mean to the athletic community, and committing to a plan for inclusion. This initiative will be posted and shared on our social media pages: @oberlinsaac on Instagram and @OberlinSAAC on Twitter.
We urge all students to follow our social media to stay updated on the many campus-wide events we organize throughout the year, while also supporting all of the great work student-athletes do.
This year, SAAC is committed to contributing to the betterment of our campus and improving the perception of student-athletes on campus — the more voices, the better! We hope to see students out supporting their classmates over Homecoming Weekend as well as the rest of the academic year. Our student-athletes are doing amazing things on their sports teams and around campus and deserve recognition, and the rest of the student body deserves to feel included in all of the fun. We all have a role in creating the communities in which we wish to live.