Otterbein’s Office of Social Justice and Activism Partners with Athletics to Advocate for Change

Posted Dec 14, 2021

By Bridget Oder ’23

Otterbein’s Office of Social Justice and Activism has created a new partnership with the Athletics Department to advocate for change on campus.

The partnership primarily started last year when Kristy McCray, associate professor of health and sport sciences; James Prysock, director of the Office of Social Justice and Activism (OSJA); and Jonathan Howe, a doctorate student at The Ohio State University, came together to facilitate monthly workshops for Otterbein coaches, trainers, and other athletics staff members.

These workshops covered topics such as identity, privilege, social justice, media literacy, and navigating tough conversations. This led to a survey that 80% of Otterbein’s athletes responded to regarding their relationships with coaches, teammates, and more. The information was used to guide the partnership’s efforts this year. 

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Phanawn Bailey ’21

Prysock said, “I think the partnership is much needed and I appreciate how open Athletics has been throughout this process. We are still in the process of shaping it to its full potential, but we are very pleased with the progress thus far.”

As a result of the partnership, OSJA and Athletics was able to hire Phanawn Bailey ’21, former Otterbein Lacrosse player and current MBA student, to serve as a liaison between the two offices. Bailey is responsible for implementing equity and inclusion initiatives for the players and coaches in the form of workshops and one-on-one meetings.

Bailey has also facilitated INST/FYS workshops for the campus on the intersectionality of identity (race, leadership, etc.) and sports. He has been a great support system for Otterbein’s student athletes of color.

As a student, Bailey worked to create a Black Student Athlete Union that serves as a support structure for athletes to develop personally and professionally. The organization collaborates with Otterbein’s Student Athlete Advisory Council throughout the year.

“My goal is to foster a competitive environment with goals leveraging education, empowering student athletes to be leaders, and holding people accountable in their role,” Bailey said. “I want people to stay dedicated to their identity as a student athlete to acquire success through hard work and discipline, and then translate that work ethic in life.” One of the primary pieces of feedback the partnership received from the survey was that athletes wanted to learn more on how to be an advocate for change. The partnership is still at the beginning stages and growing, but it is off to a great start.