Middlebury Athletics announces M+, a new diversity, equity and inclusion program

By Blaise Siefer

Courtesy Middlebury Athletics
M+ is a DEI program in the Athletics Department that will be launched in fall 2022.

There’s a new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program coming to the Middlebury Athletics Department: M+. A five-year program slated to debut in fall 2022, M+ connects the many organizations and initiatives that currently facilitate DEI initiatives on campus while adding an enhanced educational component to the student-athlete experience.

“The idea of M+ isn’t new at all,” Athletic Director Erin Quinn ’86 told The Campus. “It was a matter of codifying, if you will. If we create this M+ logo and initiative, then it codifies [our DEI goals] and makes them more tangible.”

Collaboration across the NESCAC schools on DEI education has ballooned in recent months, helping constituents build their respective DEI programs. One example of a program similar to M+ is Amherst LEADS, a program founded at Amherst College.

There are other ingredients to M+ that are still being solidified, including an education program that will encompass three learning groups: student-athletes, teams and staff. Athletes, for example, will engage with a four-year DEI curriculum during their Middlebury career, while coaches will undertake similar instruction and learn how to facilitate conversations about race, privilege and inequality with their teams. 

“There’s some standard stuff to make sure there’s a baseline of work being done, but then lots of space for teams to focus their energies on particular issues that might be of importance to them,” Quinn said. “We want a more balanced experience across all teams and across all years.”

In the past academic year alone, Middlebury has expanded its DEI education on campus. The Athletics Department offered optional anti-racism workshops in the fall, winter and spring, attracting hundreds of student-athletes to each session. The workshops were taught by Andrew Plumley ’11, a former men’s lacrosse and football player at Middlebury. 

These anti-racism workshops, along with other ongoing initiatives, are present manifestations of M+. While the program won’t be officially introduced until the fall of 2022, Quinn and the Athletics Department aren’t waiting to provide necessary DEI education to their student-athletes. This week, for example, Middlebury Athletics is highlighting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. 

Throughout the week, each team will have conversations about BLM, tacking on additional efforts that will vary by team. For instance, some squads are planning on practicing with BLM T-shirts on, while others are considering a solidarity walk on campus.

From the anti-racism workshops to the current focus on BLM, the “soft launch” of M+ started this year, according to Quinn. “We’re flying the airplane as we’re building it,” he said. 

More information is expected to be released in the coming months.