Whiting Fieldhouse flags


Catalyst for Change

Washburn’s student-athletes advocate for social and racial justice

SAAC group photo

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
By Annie Flachsbarth

In a year when athletes saw competition seasons cut short or eliminated completely, Washburn University’s student-athletes took to a different playing field.

Their goal? To make a positive impact on the campus and Topeka community by educating themselves and their fellow students through a series of lectures and events on the issues of the world around them.

Not ones to sit idly by and wait for something to happen, members of Washburn’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee made their voices heard and advocated for change. SAAC identified four areas of focus they believed would help make an impact on other student-athletes: mental health, nutrition, social justice and community service.

“Often resources to mental health, nutrition and community services are marketed and more readily available to those with more power and privilege. We wanted to bring to light the fact that social justice has been under-prioritized and underrepresented within our community and country,” said SAAC co-president and senior volleyball player Kelsey Gordon.

The program included Zoom discussions with a variety of speakers’ thought-provoking topics, including:

  • Race and education with Preston Webb, visual information specialist, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
  • Race and law with Carla Pratt, dean, Washburn University School of Law
  • Race and sports with Ray Doswell, vice president of curatorial services, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
  • Race and voting with Linsey Moddelmog, associate professor, political science, and Grant Armstrong, lecturer, political science
  • Indigenous culture and representation with Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas
  • Racial and gender equality with WNBA star Napheesa Collier of the Minnesota Lynx

As Washburn’s assistant athletic director and SAAC student advisor, Brittany Lauritsen couldn’t be prouder.

“It’s one thing to say a lot of things and another to do them,” Lauritsen said. “These students are helping pull everyone in and meet them wherever they are. It’s also teaching our student-athletes that their voices are valued and powerful.”

To prepare for the series, SAAC campaigned on Washburn’s Day of Giving, raising $7,000.

“From the day we stepped on campus as freshmen, we were urged to have a mindset of being lifelong learners,” Gordon said. “In order to be the change, we have to be educated and willing to confront the uncomfortable conversations and realities that come with the topic of social and racial justice.”

Spring 2023 Ichabod magazine cover, roses and a rock wall in front of Morgan Hall

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. View the current and past editions


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