Iona College junior Francis Acolitse was appointed as the Diversity Inclusion Chair for the Iona Student-Athlete Advisory Committee last month and is already getting to work in his new position.
Acolitse hopes to work on community service projects in the city, exposing kids in the inner city to different sports besides the most popular ones.
“I feel like a lot of kids in the city, they’re really focused on like basketball and football, stuff like that,” Acolitse said via phone call. “They don’t really know about sports like water polo, rowing, swimming or golf, like that.”
Acolitse hopes introducing these kinds of sports to children in the inner city will make the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference more diverse, as there will be more interest for more sports in the conference from inner city children.
The newly appointed chairman won’t be working alone to get the job done. Acolitse will have a subcommittee beneath him to help him implement the actions and events he wants done around campus. Last month, in an interview with Iona College’s Jonathan Stanko, Acolitse said the emails for the subcommittee were coming in very often. This month, Acolitse plans to pick a small group who is passionate about the projects they work towards.
Despite having the subcommittee and working hard to gain a more diverse presence on Iona’s campus, there’s bound to be roadblocks and hurdles Acolitse will run into. One of the biggest, he says, will be trying to fire people up about diversity and inclusion on campus.
“There are some people who are very passionate about it, but I feel like there’s others who are very lackadaisical,” Acolitse said. “I feel like now you can’t really afford to be lackadaisical; everybody has to at least try to learn new stuff.”
Acolitse hopes to turn the tides of those lackadaisical folks by poking at their empathy. The chairman discussed possible ways to do so like making videos and getting students to share their experience with their classmates and peers. One major idea Acolitse put out there was a rally to spread the message, though this would be tough with the recent coronavirus outbreak on Iona’s campus.
The creation of the Diversity Inclusion Chair comes after a myriad of responses and campaigns from the MAAC, including their United for Justice campaign and Voter Registration Initiative. With these actions and initiatives from the MAAC, it was only a matter of time before the role happened, according to Acolitse.