April 24, 2014
It has now been half a century since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Americans should use this important milestone as an opportunity not only to look back on how far we have come, but also to consider how far we still have to go.
Equality has made great progress in this nation since our humble colonial beginnings. America’s most heinous offense, that of human enslavement, has been illegal for over 150 years. People of all races are allowed to vote, and public places have been desegregated. However, our country still faces a lack of equal representation in most leadership positions. Less than five percent of all Fortune 500 CEO’s are of a racial minority in America, while nearly 37 percent of the country’s population is non-white.
For its part, Hamilton College has attempted to create a diverse and well-integrated campus. However, the recent increase in talks about race and privilege, along with shows of protest by The Movement, indicates that race is still a contentious issue on this campus. According to the Hamilton College website’s diversity page, this year, one out of every four students on campus is either multi-cultural or international. The page also brings to light that nearly one in every five faculty members is a person of color. What the school fails to mention on its page is that only one in every 30 varsity coaches at Hamilton College is part of a racial minority.
For years, sports have blurred racial lines. According to UCF College of Business Administration’s 2012 report, more than 30 percent of all male college athletes in all divisions and sports are non-white, much closer to nationwide 37 percent. However, the issue of a lack of diversity among coaches is still highly prevalent, and Hamilton College is no exception. Of all the coaches on Hamilton College’s nearly 30 varsity teams, non-whites make up roughly 4 percent of the coaching positions. Across all Division III coaching staffs, that number only rises to only 13 percent, a small number when you consider how many racial minorities are actually competing in these sports.
I talked to multi-racial assistant football and track coach Jerome Rudolph about the racial makeup of our coaching staffs. When I asked Coach Rudolph what he felt about the racial disparity of coaches compared to other faculty positions, he responded, “How attractive is the college to minority applicants? How and to which group of people is the college advertised? How many minority applicants receive interviews for positions, are offered the job they interviewed for, and accept it?”
Since Coach Rudolph has very recently played college athletics, running track at Southeastern Louisiana University along with running track and playing football at Lafayette College, I was eager to get his opinion on how other colleges deal with diversity in varsity coaching. When I asked him if he felt that this problem was prevalent elsewhere, he responded, “I believe that in many of the more selective and higher cost schools in the U.S. diversity is an issue. Lack of awareness and ability to afford schools such as Hamilton across different areas in the country make diversity an ongoing issue.”
For Coach Rudolph and I, it is obvious that our athletic department and administration need to fix this racial disparity in the coaching staffs, and find out why it exists. While the simple answer may be to simply hire more minority coaches, the problem may be deeper than that —the fact that Hamilton College is not as attractive to minority coaches as other schools.
Perhaps we are not going far enough in our recruiting process of hiring potential minority coaches or just not going to the right places. This administration must admit that creating diversity in our coaching staffs deserves equal attention as diversity in our student body and faculty.