Northeastern AD issues statement on racial injustice

Konya includes call-to-action in letter to athletic community

Northeastern athletic director Jeff Konya distributed a letter to the Northeastern University athletic community this afternoon:

Dear Northeastern Athletics Community,

I have been searching for the right words to express my thoughts about the recent acts of injustice in our country with the inhumane killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many more. I am still unsure if I have found the right words, but this is how I feel: I am frustrated, angry, and afraid.

I am frustrated with the culture of racial inequality and social injustice in our society and the many incidents that have demonstrated that the Black community are treated differently and unfairly.

I am angry that we, as a society, have not yet recognized that we are all on the same team and that everyone on that team is equally important.

I am distressed that our black student-athletes at Northeastern do not have the same opportunity to feel safe in everyday activities like running, bird watching or walking down the street. I cannot feel the depth of what they are feeling right now, but I know that I can support them to the best of my ability and join them in shouting “Black Lives Matter!”

I know that we do not have all the answers, and I know that to find those answers we have to realize a new understanding of the challenges and dangers that face our country’s Black community. In order to better understand, we need to listen without judgement and learn. We need to stand up for what is right, and that includes saying that we will no longer tolerate racism and social injustice in our country and provide a safe environment for our Black student-athletes.

Prior to writing this I hosted a town hall meeting with Northeastern student-athletes and coaches, and I was so moved and encouraged by the passion and raw emotion exhibited when they spoke. Student-athletes of all backgrounds and ethnicities were united in expressing their outrage about the state of society. I genuinely believe that the next generation is going to make things right; it is our duty to remove as many obstacles from their path as we can.

To that end I am calling on all student-athletes, coaches, and staff to join me in committing to these action items for Northeastern Athletics:

1. We, collectively and as individuals, need to be vigilant to call out and quell acts of racial discrimination.

2. Those in positions of leadership (student-athletes, coaches, and administrators) commit to use their position and influence to advance social equity and to eradicate racism in the Northeastern community and beyond.

3. Ensure that Black student-athletes have appropriate role models and mentors within the Northeastern Athletics community.

4. Utilize the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) platform to encourage and coordinate collaborative work across all Northeastern teams on initiatives to advocate for change (e.g., Get Out the Vote).

5. Actively promote organizations that support racial justice and social equality and fight systemic racism.

We are defined by our actions, not our words; commit to joining us as we advocate for change. We hear you, we love you, we stand with you!

Jeff Konya, Director of Athletics and Recreation