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Finding Your Place: How Affinity Groups Foster Belonging for Student-Athletes

Imagine stepping onto a campus where you're one of few who share your experiences. That's the reality for many Black student-athletes at Indiana University, like Desiree Dufek and Micah Camble. But thanks to dedicated affinity groups like HER and MOVE, they've found a safe space to connect, grow, and thrive.

More Than Just Support Groups:

Desiree, president of HER (Hoosiers Empowering Racially diverse student-athletes), describes the group as a "culture shock" in the best way possible. Here, Black women student-athletes can openly discuss the unique challenges they face, celebrate their shared culture, and support each other's journeys. Micah, president of MOVE (Men of Valor Excelling), echoes the sentiment. He highlights the group's ability to be a judgment-free zone where members can relax, be themselves, and learn from each other's experiences.

Building a Diverse and Inclusive Community:

IU Athletics understands the power of belonging. They actively encourage participation in these affinity groups, recognizing their role in fostering a culture of not just diversity, but also equity and community. Lisa Winters, Director of Leadership and Life Skills, emphasizes the groups' ability to help student-athletes connect and build upon their experiences.

Beyond Their Own Circles:

Both HER and MOVE strive to extend their reach beyond their core members. They welcome participation from all student-athletes, fostering understanding and fellowship across races and ethnicities. They also collaborate with other affinity groups like Hoosiers Out Loud, Women Impacting Others, and Global Hoosiers, creating a vibrant tapestry of support and inclusivity.

Impact on Recruitment and Beyond:

Nichole Flowers, a senior who previously led HER, highlights the groups' appeal to potential recruits. Seeing diverse communities thriving at IU can offer a sense of security and belonging to prospective student-athletes.

Looking Forward:

Both HER and MOVE have ambitious goals for the future. They plan to collaborate on events, engage with the Bloomington community through service projects, and continue welcoming all student-athletes with open arms.

The Takeaway:

These affinity groups offer more than just support; they create a sense of belonging and empower student-athletes to navigate their unique journeys at IU. Their presence strengthens the university's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, creating a richer and more rewarding experience for all.

So, are you ready to find your place? Get involved in an affinity group and discover the power of community!

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