The murder of George Floyd and several Black Americans triggered social unrest and put the Black Lives Matter movement at the center of the world’s stage. People started asking what OAR plans to do to break down systemic barriers in our organization. As a result, the membership voted to stand up a DEI committee at the January 2021 membership meeting.
The initial OAR DEI committee members were: Richard Ramsey, Gail Wootan, Arlene Hartman, Simone Boe, Kiirsten Flynn, Julie Groff, and EJ Johnson. We were asked to move slow with intention. We took the year to gather information to inform a strategic plan. We conducted personal interviews with all Board members and the entire coaching staff. A survey was shared with the entire membership including youth and parents. Each committee member Interviewed 6 different club directors that already engage in DEI principles: Community Rowing Incorporated – Boston, Milwaukee’s Stem to Stern Program, Philadelphia City Rowing, Row New York, Pocock Rowing – Seattle, Seize the Oar – Seattle Are. Since gathering all of this information the committee developed a strategic plan to help inform the Board and coaching staff on direction and goals to begin in 2022.
The members of OAR row because they love it, and they believe that anyone given the opportunity to row would also love this sport. However, we acknowledge that many members of the Olympia area community are not represented in our club. We believe this needs to change. OAR has developed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to guide the organization in becoming a more dynamic rowing club that better serves the communities in our area. We intend to make rowing accessible to all people by reducing barriers to engaging in our sport. We are dedicated to taking steps to build a club that honors diversity, is inclusive, and is equitable to everyone.
At OAR we believe Black Lives Matter. We also believe that nobody, including BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals, should be excluded from rowing because of any aspect of their identity. We are committed to educating ourselves about how systemic racism is pervasive and dedicated to being an organization that honors diversity, inclusion and equity of all persons and will work hard to create a safe space of belonging for all.