Graphic by Rachel Brown.
TESSA FACKRELL | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Juneteenth 2020, Butler Athletics launched the BUnited initiative. According to Sonya Hopkins, the associate athletic director for academics and one of the faculty advisers for the initiative, BUnited started shortly after George Floyd’s death as a way to open a dialogue between students on campus. Student-athletes attended Zoom meetings throughout stay at home orders as a way to interact and discuss topics including racism, sexism and inclusion.
Bryce Golden, senior sports media major and member of the Men’s Basketball team, has been involved with BUnited since its inception.
“Social and racial injustices were on the forefront, more than it’s normally been,” Golden said. “And we had a Zoom call within the athletics department talking about what we wanted to do to kind of not let this moment go by, especially us young people to get our voices out there and that’s kind of when it started.”
The three pillars of BUnited are empathy, education and experience. According to the BUnited website, these pillars are meant to create a better experience for all students on campus. In regards to BUnited, empathy means actively listening to differing perspectives while education means providing resources for growth in understanding racial injustices and equality. Finally, experience is putting practices into place to create the best possible experience for all students.
“If we can bring forward issues that we sometimes don’t necessarily pay attention to, but certainly could have a hand in making it better for our future generations, then those are the kinds of things that we want to educate our student-athletes about,” Hopkins said.
Since the return to campus for the fall 2021 semester, BUnited has started hosting events, beginning with a gathering on campus on Sunday, Aug. 29. There was a DJ, music and stickers.
McKenzie Greene, senior track runner and an original member of BUnited, said the event was meant to accomplish more than just handing out stickers.
“Sunday was our sort of call-out meeting, we were trying to reach everybody,” Greene said. “If something is an issue for one person on campus, it should be an issue for all of us, and we should all try to address it. “
Although this initiative started in the athletics building, Greene stressed that all students are more than welcome to join in on events and conversations.
“I would definitely encourage people who aren’t athletes to ask questions and try to get connected with people so they can have a say in it, because it’s not limited to just athletes, it’s just founded in that area of campus,” Greene said. “We do have an Instagram account, and we also have a website, so you can look at those resources or contact Sonya, she’s kind of the face of the faculty end of it.”
Since the organization is tackling issues that affect all students at Butler, they are working towards expanding their reach to address various and diverse groups on campus.
“There’s strength in numbers, it’s a large group and we all have a collective voice but we’re doing so many different things,” Golden said. “It kind of makes it more credible when there’s more people moving towards the same goals.”
BUnited’s website states that the initiative would be most successful if hundreds of bulldogs come together to build it. If students want to get involved, they can visit BUnited’s website for more information about the initiative and upcoming events.