Knights LEAD the way: new social justice organization partners with athletics department

Introductory+photo+of+students+apart+of+the+LEAD+campaign.

Abby Leon

Introductory photo of students apart of the LEAD campaign.

This semester marks the beginning of a new social justice organization, Knights LEAD, to Calvin’s campus. Catalyzed by the summer’s racial injustices, Calvin students Lawrence Beamer, Abby Lyon and Jacob Williams, among others, felt motivated to begin the organization. Beamer spoke with Chimes about the mission of LEAD and the impact it hopes to have on campus.

“LEAD stands for Learn, Educate, Act, and Diversify. The goal of LEAD is to promote social justice on behalf of the athletic department, and to nurture relationships in the greater Grand Rapids area as well as the Calvin community,” Beamer said. 

The idea for the organization and its connection with athletics grew out of an ongoing relationship between the student leaders and athletic department faculty members. “We’ve got to do something about all this despairing anger and frustration. It’s time for Calvin to be active instead of passive in its fight for social justice,” said Beamer.

LEAD is composed of five small groups: community outreach, administration, student athlete representatives, research, and student organization liaisons. Each group is made up of a team of students who work on multiple projects and collaborate with other groups. Some ongoing projects include canvassing the greater Grand Rapids area to find other organizations to partner with, and getting every student athlete registered to vote.

Additionally, LEAD is involved in the planning for UnLearn 365 Week, which will occur Oct. 5-9.  Recently, LEAD partnered with ASA to organize a prayer for Breonna Taylor. Also the month of November has been dubbed “UnLearn Month.” 

Throughout this time, LEAD is organizing team building and learning exercises within the athletic department to facilitate conversations around social justice. “We hope to show that even though these issues can be hard to talk about, they can also be fun and engaging too,” said Beamer. December’s theme is “to give and not count the cost”: this last part of the semester will focus on a charity drive.

Beamer and other leaders hope that Knights LEAD will be a staple of Calvin’s campus by the end of the semester and will have a relationship with community members built on trust. “We see LEAD as a sanctuary for challenging conversations around really heavy but necessary topics,” said Beamer.

 Beamer estimates that there are around 60 members of LEAD, but they are always looking for engaged and compassionate students, athletes or not, to join. “Our values are a commitment to diversity, unity through diversity, and humility through learning. Those are the character traits we hope to see in our members as well,” Beamer said, encouraging students looking to get involved. To begin the application process, students should email Lawrence Beamer ([email protected]n.edu) or Jacob Williams ([email protected]).