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Pacific Lutheran honored as first recipient of Diversity Spotlight award

Student-athletes at the school were honored because of their LGBTQ inclusion efforts.

A diversity initiative at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) is the inaugural recipient of recognition in the NCAA Division III Diversity Spotlight initiative.

The monthly Diversity Spotlight recognizes and promotes outstanding diversity-related projects, programming and initiatives that are occurring on Division III campuses and in conference offices. All award recipients receive $500 towards their next diversity initiative.

During the 2013-14 academic year, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Pacific Lutheran dedicated its efforts to the theme of inclusion. The committee focused on LGBTQ inclusion efforts in the community, campus, and athletics department.

The student-athletes rallied around a series of projects that brought awareness and support to the LGBTQ community. The first project was a “You Can Play” video featuring student-athletes from various sports stating their positive stance on inclusion. The video says that “everyone matters” in the PLU community. PLU’s SAAC took the video one step further, expanding its message to include race, religion and gender identity on top of sexual orientation.

To accompany the release of the “You Can Play” video, SAAC hosted Hudson Taylor, executive director and founder of Athlete Ally, who spoke to an audience of more than 400 people about ending homophobia in sports by educating allies in the athletics community and empowering them to take a stand.

SAAC’s third component of their inclusion initiative was a series of posters featuring phrases such as “Equality Matters” and “Respect Matters” to communicate that every individual in PLU’s student body matters to the overall function of the PLU community.

One idea guided the initiatives.

“SAAC wanted to make sure our student-athletes were embracing inclusion within their teams and the university to make sure everyone feels welcome and comfortable within our department,” said Amy Wooten, volleyball student-athlete and PLU SAAC president.

PLU’s SAAC efforts have created a more inclusive campus and bridged the gap between athletics and the student body. The Pacific Lutheran University’s SAAC is a champion of inclusion and this month’s Division III Diversity Spotlight recipient.