To the Princeton Running Club community,
Princeton Running Club stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The recent protests in response to the unjust killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the starkly disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities, merely highlight hundreds of years of systemic racism—especially that which is ingrained in our nation’s policing and justice system. We commit to addressing racism both outside and inside our club.
It is important to begin by recognizing racial and class privilege as an immense barrier to entry in our sport. Unsurprisingly, collegiate cross-country, especially in the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association (NIRCA), is disproportionately white. Historical exclusion and discouragement of Black runners have produced resounding consequences for representation and inclusivity in the sport today. More than this, nationally, and even within our club, non-white runners have been followed by police or “community watch” groups. Running should not be an activity that requires anyone to risk their life or second guess the clothes they wear or the places they can run.
Regardless of the systemic racism in running, there is no excuse for our own team’s failure to address diversity and inclusion within our club, or for our complicity in systemic racism on campus and in our country. Only now, over the past few weeks, have the issues of race and racism come to the forefront of PRC’s club-wide conversations. PRC aims to be inclusive and to create a welcoming community for all who wish to run with us—regardless of race or pace—but we acknowledge that we’ve often failed to meet this goal.
Being “non-racist” isn’t enough; this simply aids complicity. We must instead work to become anti-racist. We commit to doing better, and will start with the several steps outlined below. These are small steps towards addressing deeply-rooted problems, but they will help us exchange our own complicity for active engagement. Beyond this, we commit to listening: we welcome you to reach out with suggestions for us. To hold us accountable, we’ll offer an anonymous feedback form, accessible through our website as well as an email sent to our listserv.
Princeton Running Club
Commitment to Action:
Princeton Running Club will commit to the following action items.
- Provide acknowledgment (on social media) of
- The history of our sport.
- Our failure to properly acknowledge this history.
- Call out instances where team members’ actions give rise to an uncomfortable or hostile environment for BIPOC peers.
- Allow all members to either keep their refunded dues or donate to Black Leadership Coalition. At the time of this statement, we have donated $415 to this cause.
- Reach out to NIRCA (National Intercollegiate Running Club Association), urging them to make a statement and take action to address the ongoing movement and the lack of diversity in our sport.
- Communicate with the Princeton University Sport Club Office and other club sports’ leadership about initiatives that all club sports can take.
- Organize a club-wide run-a-thon event. For every mile we run during this event, we will donate money to a civil rights organization chosen by the team. We will:
- Post progress to our social media platforms.
- Have members and alumni commit to contributing/matching funds.
- Create a new officer position dedicated to diversity and inclusion to help hold our team accountable to inclusivity practices. This is a discussion that current leadership will begin working on immediately.
- Increase retention of new runners by offering a wider variety of pace groups and making clear that the team is for everyone, not just those who run competitively.
- Increase focus on track & field, broadening our representation of the diverse running community1 through:
- Winter/spring recruitment for track.
- Availability of track-specific coaching, sprint workouts, and shorter runs.
- Honor Ahmaud Arbery by running 2.23 miles together on May 9th annually.
1The NCAA Demographics Database indicates that about 9% of men’s and women’s cross country runners (in the NCAA) are Black compared to about 27% Black for both men and women running indoor and outdoor track. We must emphasize again that our existing cross country-targeted recruiting is no excuse for the current lack of diversity of our team.