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WVU Tech starts new Athlete Ally chapter

Athlete Ally

As students take on more responsibility for the health and happiness of their communities, they are increasingly turning to student organizations. One such group – the newly established chapter of Athlete Ally – will focus on fostering an environment where everyone feels welcome.

Scott Robertson, Assistant Dean of Students for TRIO and Diversity Programs, said he hopes to host the first official meeting of the chapter in November.

Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor speaks to studentsAthlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor speaks to students in Beckley.

At first, the group will undergo training on ways to combat homophobia and transphobia in the locker room, on the field and on campus. Then it’s on to presentations, workshops, featured speakers and community service.

“We hope to move into hosting events on campus designed to get people talking, not just about LGBTQ inclusiveness, but about the very way we talk about and to one another. We live in a time where whoever yells the loudest wins, so we want to explore ways to have open conversations where people on both sides of the issue listen,” he said. 

Athlete Ally was founded by former All-American collegiate wrestler Hudson Taylor. The mission of the organization is to “end the rampant homophobia and transphobia in sport and to activate the athletic community to exercise their leadership to champion LGBTQ equality.”

The new chapter at Tech was announced during Taylor’s second visit to campus, where he spent time working with the University’s wrestling team and gave a presentation to students, faculty and staff about inclusion in the higher education environment.

For Robertson, starting with athletes is a crucial step in the process of ensuring a more inclusive campus community.

“Having this organization on campus is important because we have such a large student-athlete population living and working here who can serve as a role models,” he said.

Beyond a more welcoming community, Robertson sees a lot of additional benefits for students who get involved.

“All of our students will be part of a global workforce. They're going to be working with people who are different than them no matter what field they find themselves in, so these students will get some training that will make them more effective at communication and more marketable in that workforce," he said.

Students can email Robertson directly or stop by the Benedum Center to learn more.