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 black people of color (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.
In the Spring of 2021, we will be having the antiracism workshop, Real Talk, with Richard Butler, chairperson on the USRowing DE&I Committee and employee at Three Rivers Rowing Association. After this initial conversation, we will keep the dialogue of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) going with yearly conversations amongst our team. These conversations will help us continue to grow and move forward in this space.
As a way to monitor our growth, we will have yearly internal surveys concerning DEI within our team, the first one being fall of 2020. These surveys will 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.
To help break down the barriers of entry for Pittsburgh youths to the sport of rowing, we will be starting the program Row Together in Spring of 2022. This program will serve to engage with our community and help build a supportive community for kids who may have never considered rowing as an option for them.