At Carnegie Mellon University Rowing Club we are committed to fostering an environment where everyone feels welcomed and supported. We recognize that barriers of entry to the sport of rowing tend to block under-resourced communities from opportunities in the sport of rowing, in part by access to equipment and perceived values of elitism and privilege. We see this in the general homogeneity of the athletes and coaches at the division and elite levels, as well as in the discomfort expressed by BIPOC, adaptive persons, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and persons from differing socioeconomic backgrounds.
Rowing is an inherently team-driven sport. When you’re in a boat with eight other people, you need to give your teammates your 100% best effort because that is what you expect them to do for you. You can’t give up because you’re not just rowing for yourself, you’re rowing for your teammates. It’s not just about you.
At CMURC, we want to distance ourselves from the idea that you have to be or look a certain way to be a rower. We want everyone to feel excited to come to practice and proud to be a part of our team on the race course. We recognize the exclusion ingrained and associated with rowing and want to challenge this state of being by allowing everyone to feel comfortable walking into our boathouse.
Building an Inclusive Environment within the Team
In the Spring of 2021, we had the antiracism workshop, Real Talk, with Richard Butler, chairperson on the USRowing DE&I Committee and employee at Three Rivers Rowing Association. This initial conversation helped to ensure the dialogue of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) going with yearly conversations resonated amongst our team. These conversations will help us continue to grow and move forward in this space.
Monitoring Our Growth
As a way to monitor our growth, we send out anonymous internal surveys and feedback forms twice a semester. These surveys evaluate the team’s areas of weakness and suggest means of improvement towards fostering a safe and inclusive environment. We hope as the team evolves towards a more inclusive environment, members of the CMU community will find less barriers to entry of rowing within our club.
A Most Beautiful Thing by Arshay Cooper (Book and Documentary)