Student-athletes hold “UNIty” walk

UNI Athletics
UNI student-athletes gather in protest of social and racial justice as part of their UNIty Walk. The theme of the event was “Together We Rise”

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

On Friday, Oct. 11, hundreds of UNI student-athletes, faculty, coaches, campus members and community members gathered for a “UNIty” march with the theme of “Together We Rise” in protest of racial injustice. Led by the UNI Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Minority Student-Athlete Leadership Team (MSALT), the event was assisted through help of the UNI Athletics Department in order to aid the UNI community with raising awareness of their social justice messages. While the protest was largely planned by UNI student-athletes, the event was open to anyone who wanted to attend. Many Northern Iowa student-athletes were proud of how the event turned out and the amount of support from the greater campus community that they received.

“We came together as student-athletes because we wanted this to be student-athlete led,” said sophomore UNI men’s basketball player Noah Carter in an interview with UNI Athletics. “When SAAC and MSALT showed up, it really put forth what this university and community are capable of doing. I thought it turned out really well,” he added. “We’re only going to figure this out together. Being shoulder-to-shoulder with my teammates, with members of this school, means everything. Not only will we get through this together, but everything is better when we come together, so why not do it with love and positivity,” Carter said.

The event began at sunrise on Friday morning. While march organizers asked those in attendance to show up at 6:40 a.m., the protest did not begin until sunrise at 7:17 a.m. The commencement at sunrise was intended to be symbolic of the theme “Together We Rise.” The march began at the south entrance of the McLeod Center, crossed over Hudson Road and ended at the campanile at the center of UNI’s campus.

“For me growing up as an African-American man, as well as a white man with biracial parents, it means everything to me to see both sides come together,” Carter said. “Growing up in Iowa, I was raised in the country so I’ve seen different sides of the majority. But I just try learning from my teammates, people of color and those from different backgrounds as much as I can. The more information I know, the more I can do to help people that don’t. Sharing positivity and learning the most that I can is the best way to help,” he said.

“There was a great turnout. Having all of these people here walking in unison really shows that we are united as a university and athletics as a whole,” said UNI senior track and field athlete TayShaun Cooper to UNI Athletics media. “Outside of athletics, there are so many people here that I can rely on and count on their support when athletics just isn’t a priority. To me, it’s the little things. The main thing that I want is for everyone just to listen. They (UNI Athletics) just listen and understand the Black community and minority community as a whole and understand where we’re coming from. Just understanding us and being there for support is all that we need in this time that we’re living in today,” added Cooper. “I never thought that we would’ve had all the athletes together supporting the same thing at once. But just being together and supporting the same cause is the best thing that I could ever have imagined.”

The march was aided by the UNI Athletics Department and the University of Northern Iowa as a whole. The department of athletics has begun tracking all of its diversity and inclusion efforts on their website, as a part of the UNI Athletics Panthers Rising initiative. Both interviews of the UNI student-athletes can be found at youtube.com/UNIAthletics.