Written by: Sam Cohn
Photo by: Jackie Terpak
A group of Temple student-athletes convened on a Zoom call Tuesday evening to discuss ways they can make a difference in their communities fighting for racial equality.
The call was primarily led by Temple Football senior Isaiah Graham-Mobley. Student-athletes from Temple Football, Gymnastics, Women’s Soccer, Men’s Crew, among others and friends of athletes were in attendance for the call.
“This is a hard conversation for a lot of people,” Mobley said. “Especially if you don’t know what it’s like to walk around Black in America. It can be a very hard conversation for anyone. But that’s what we are here for. We’re here to educate and learn and grow.”
Graham-Mobley and Temple Gymnastics sophomore Jackie Terpak helped organize a committee that spearheaded the coordination of a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest on Saturday June, 6 beginning with the release of a statement on social media condemning racism and standing with those fighting against oppression.
Graham-Mobley mentioned the small committee that helped write the statement will be sitting in on a coaches meeting Wednesday talking about how the Athletics Department has approached the issue.
The decision to gather for an open forum-style call was a way for the group to take further initiative in creating real change.
Tuesday’s discussion began with a reflection of the peaceful protest and what it was like for everyone to unite in a march towards City Hall. It then shifted towards a response to Temple University’s tweet condemning racism, while advocating for students’ First Amendment rights.
“The first thing that came to my mind is, how can we rally as a University to make sure that this never happens again,” Temple Football redshirt junior Max Cavallucci asked. “Students like that are all over the place. Going to a public university like Temple University it’s difficult to understand that they’re abiding by First Amendment rights. But, [Temple is] contradicting themselves by putting out statements saying, ‘We don’t tolerate hate speech.’”
Megan Combs, a junior from Temple Women’s Rowing addressed solutions of community outreach and ways they can help in surrounding public schools.
There was a strong response from fellow athletes and others on the call to take substantial action to help mend the issue. Although no concrete solutions were decided upon, the group agreed to meet again to further discuss ways they can use their platform for the greater good.
Later, Lydia Hetznecker, a junior from Women’s Lacrosse addressed the possibility of a training program to combat racism and implicit bias. Issues the group hopes to not only amend around Temple’s campus, but into the North Philadelphia community as well.
“Kind of like how we have a training program with drug and alcohol programs and sexual abuse programs,” Hetznecker said, “I think that having a talk about implicit bias and about racism would be a really good idea. Just to kind of teach people about it, but also to get people more involved in what they can do across the board.”
The next step for the group before the next meeting is to attend the Black Lives Matter peaceful protest on Thursday June, 11 at 2:30 p.m., at the Bell Tower in the center of Temple’s campus.