University of Colorado Chancellor Phil DiStefano had some disconcerting comments during today's Board of Regents retreat held in Silverthorne. The focus for the series of meetings was directed towards diversity and in a particular session DiStefano shared a story of a conversation he had with an African-American athletic department staff member.
According to Sarah Kuta, who's a reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera, DiStefano was told the Dal Ward Athletic Center was called "The Plantation" by African-American athletes. The comments were transcribed through a series of tweets sent out on Twitter by Kuta.
#CUBoulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano is sharing a story about a recent conversation he had with a black athletic dept. staffer.— Sarah Kuta (@SarahKuta) July 13, 2016
DiStefano says black athletes call Dal Ward Athletic Center "The Plantation" because all they're valued for is their athletic contributions— Sarah Kuta (@SarahKuta) July 13, 2016
DiStefano says black athletes call it "The Plantation" because their performance pays for white people to play golf, tennis, run track— Sarah Kuta (@SarahKuta) July 13, 2016
"Their sweat and tears is really for other people, not for them," DiStefano says. In 40 years on campus, he'd never heard that sentiment.— Sarah Kuta (@SarahKuta) July 13, 2016
DiStefano: "It just sticks with me and I'm thinking, 'We gotta change something.'"— Sarah Kuta (@SarahKuta) July 13, 2016
DiStefano didn't shy away from talking about a topic that has been at the forefront of the national conversation for quite some time. The racial divide has conquered the talk of the media and it's clear CU's intentions have focused on creating a better environment on campus.
Here's a video from Febuarary of this year with DiStefano prompting a conversation on how to make the campus more inclusive to students.
Through the Colorado Athletic Department Chancellor DiStefano issued the following statement:
At today's Board of Regents meeting, I participated in a discussion on diversity and inclusion. These are topics that are very important to me personally, as well as our campus. I recounted something I heard recently from a black Athletic Department employee who told me that black-identified and African-American student-athletes have referred to the Dal Ward Athletic Center as "The Plantation."
In more than 40 years here, it was the first time I heard of this. And I'm deeply troubled by these feelings. I shared this story at today's meeting not because I want to make people feel uncomfortable. I brought it up because we need to bring awareness to these feelings and take these issues head-on. It is important that these previously unspoken feelings be brought forward so that we can truly advance our campus to the inclusive environment we all aspire to create. We need to keep these conversations happening.