Follow-up on the systemic review of the Black student-athlete experience
Photo By: Travis Nguyen/Photo Editor
In the two years since the initial large-scale allegations were made against the McMaster Athletics Department, what has changed?
Just under two years ago a McMaster university student-athlete, Steven Archachan, was accused of tweeting racist posts on social media, which provoked a mass reaction to get the player off the team. Although Archachan was kicked off the lacrosse team, there are still many issues surrounding McMaster athletics and systemic racism.
Another issue the school encountered was surrounding Glenn DeCaire, the director of parking and security services, who faced many allegations of racist behaviour. At one point, over 6,000 individuals signed a petition to fire the ex-police chief.
While all of these incidents occurred in the past, after the Systemic Review of the Black Student-Athlete Experience and the McMaster Athletics Climate was released, there was a major outcry yet again. Many news sources, including The Silhouette covered it and many students were surprised to see this many controversial incidents happening at McMaster. What exactly did McMaster do to combat these events after the document was released?
“Overall, I think that the McMaster response has been somewhat effective. There are many areas where we have seen some improvement, but there are still many areas that haven't even been looked at. Sure, I think that the school has been taking some steps to reduce the systemic racism within the sports department, which is good news. For instance, the Black Athlete Student Body has been formed, yet I just don't think that it’s enough to counter the 60 page document that listed enormous racial instances,” said Nana Yaw Serbeh, a member of the Marauders football team.
“Ever since I came to McMaster in 2018, it’s evident that the Black student experience just hasn’t been the same compared to other races within the athletics department. I think that the document released a few years ago clearly outlines that. There are so many instances where Black student athletes were not treated the same as other races and it really does make me angry,” explained Serbeh.
In the System Review published by the Athletics Department in October 2020, there were multiple instances of different Black athletes being let down by coaches and other members of the Marauders.
“Just one of the horrible situations that Black athletes have found themselves in goes way back to 2014, I believe. Essentially, a student athlete wished to discuss a problem he had within the squad and arranged a meeting with personnel higher up. However, when he arrived at the meeting, nobody was there to welcome him or speak to him. He was left alone in the situation and had nobody to help him,” said Serbeh.
Although there’s plenty that McMaster can still work on to improve the experience of Black student athletes and the way that they are treated, the school has taken steps to create spaces and opportunities for them. For example, the school just recently announced that the Athletics department has created 21 financial awards for Black student athletes, in an effort to create a more welcoming and motivational atmosphere within the community.
“I think that there is much more to do for McMaster athletics. One of the things that I’d like to see is a more welcoming atmosphere to the Black student athletes and more Black student athletes in general. I think that we are making some movement, but it’s simply not good enough yet. We’ve raised a lot of awareness and I think that the community should be more aware of the incidents that occur on campus and that they should be addressed correctly,” explained Serbeh.
There have certainly been efforts on behalf of McMaster to rectify the challenges and racism faced by Black student athletes. They have made considerable efforts to welcome Black student athletes to the sports scene, but is that enough to create meaningful and lasting change?