The Big Ten Conference has put words into action by launching the Big Ten’s Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, as well as launching a voter registration campaign in light of the recent unrest in the United States over police violence and systemic racism.
The purpose of the Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, according to a press release, is to "seek tangible ways to actively and constructively combat racism and hate around the world while also empowering student-athletes to express their rights to free speech and peaceful protest.”
Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren announced the creation of the coalition June 1 and invited athletic directors, student-athletes, coaches and many more to join the coalition, resulting in 11 members of Michigan State’s athletic programs joining the coalition.
Those 11 members are MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., Athletic Director Bill Beekman, associate athletic director Elliot Daniels and Deputy Athletic Director Alan Haller. From various coaching staffs comes head football coach Mel Tucker, volleyball head coach Cathy George, and Associate Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Lorenzo Guess. Advisory commission member and former MSU women’s basketball player Lauren Aitch, linebacker Antjuan Simmons, track and field senior Brooke Bogan, and volleyball junior Naya Gros as current and former MSU student-athletes.
“The events in our country and around the world during the past few months have strengthened my fundamental belief in our need to develop tangible and actionable efforts in a collective manner and provide viable solutions addressing the issues of hate and racism in our society,” Warren said in a press release. “We have the distinct opportunity and responsibility through our Coalition to continually encourage, educate and empower our student-athletes as we embrace transparent and much-needed dialogue regarding meaningful issues that have impacted race relations for many years.”
In addition to the Big Ten’s Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, the conference has also launched a non-partisan voter registration initiative to encourage its student-athletes to vote in the upcoming national election.
“The Big Ten Conference Voter Registration Initiative is a natural extension of the conversation within the Coalition,” Warren said in the press release. “An election year provides the opportunity to educate our student-athletes in a non-partisan fashion regarding the importance of exercising their civic right to clearly understand the political process, register to vote, cast a vote during the upcoming election, and provide adequate support to combat voter suppression. We are at an inflection point in our country. Empowering our student-athletes by encouraging them to use their voices illustrates how we can collectively work together to build a better future.”
This voting initiative will be partnering with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to work and find ways to ensure the student-athlete's ability to perform their civic duty.
“The right to vote is the most important right in our democracy,” President and Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Kristen Clarke said in a press release. “Student-athletes have unique platforms that can be used to educate and activate students all across the country. I am excited to partner with Commissioner Kevin Warren and the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition to help promote civic participation and ensure that the voices of all student voters are heard this election season.”