Cassell Coliseum

Cassell Coliseum, Nov. 3, 2021.

On Oct. 28, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted a Unity Walk on campus to raise awareness for racial and social injustices. The student athletes made a 1.5-mile walk around campus holding signs that said, “Rise, speak up, and unite” and “#Love.”

SAAC is made up of student athletes that represent a variety of sports at Virginia Tech. The committee acts as a bridge of communication between administration, coaches and players to the rest of the student athletes.

“Through SAAC, we decide on task forces at the beginning of each year,” said Kahlil Dover, a senior forward on the men’s soccer team and acting president of the SAAC. “I wanted to focus on diversity and inclusion as a focal point.”

Given the movements that have taken place nationwide for the past two years regarding racial and social injustices, Dover wants to ensure that discussions on this topic don’t go quiet.

“Being able to host the Unity Walk at this time was crucial because the conversation started to die off, and I just wanted to get the conversation going again,” Dover said.

Dover recalls the atmosphere on the day of the walk being full of energy as student athletes gathered outside of Cassell Coliseum to begin the event. “I decided to play this one house mix to kind of get that energy up too, and I think everyone was pretty pumped, honestly,” Dover said.

This is the first Unity Walk that the SAAC has hosted, and because of this, a lot of planning went into making the walk happen.

“Talks about this walk probably started last year, but for me being involved, it probably started (at the) end of August, beginning of September,” said Jordan Tilley, a defensive player on the women’s club lacrosse team and an executive member of the SAAC. “I think it was really important and powerful to create a walk that signified everything that we’ve been talking about (social justice movements like Black Lives Matter) for almost two years now.”

One of the main goals of this walk was to apply the education that people have received about the recent events surrounding social injustices.

“There’s been a lot of awareness in the past, there's been a lot of education, there's been a lot of communication — just about everything that has been going on,” Tilley said.

“I think something that was really focused on was actually bringing that to action (and) doing something about it.”

Dover hopes that the inclusion task force continues to hold the walk even after he graduates in the spring.

“The beauty in it is that now that we have that (planning) sorted out, we have the way to go for any future Unity Walks or any similar events,” Dover said. The SAAC aims to hold more unity walks in the future to continue raising awareness and taking action on social and racial injustices.