Harvard's Athletics Department has debuted 23 new initiatives for student athletes as part of a larger umbrella program titled "Crimson360" and meant to reflect the department's revamped motto of "principled leadership, academic integration and competitive excellence."
Crimson360, which kicked off last month with a back-to-school barbecue, features a mix of new and existing trainings for student athletes along four broad themes: leadership, community building, life skills, and professional development. The department created three of the workshops included in Crimson360 in direct response to a months-long internal cultural review it undertook over the past year.
The Athletics Department launched a cultural review in spring 2017 after a series of high-profile scandals on the men’s soccer and cross country teams; members of both teams inappropriately rated their female counterparts for their looks and sexual appeal. Following the review, the department announced plans to implement mandatory sexual assault prevention and conflict resolution programs for athletes, unconscious bias trainings for Athletics staff and coaches, and “Diversity Dialogues” for the department as a whole.
The “Diversity Dialogues” and sexual assault prevention programs — as well as a “values-based leadership” program led by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports — make up three of the almost two dozen Crimson360 programs. Other initiatives are meant to help athletes to develop professional skills, refine their leadership abilities, and balance their workloads as student athletes.
Assistant Director of Athletics Andrea M. LaPointe, a founder of the Crimson360 program, wrotein an email that the department created Crimson360 to make student athletes more aware of resources available to them at Harvard.
“The majority of the programming is not brand new to Crimson360. We saw Crimson360 as a great way for student athletes to recognize what’s available to them,” LaPointe wrote. “Crimson360 will forever be evolving as we strive to add value to their student-athlete experience.”
Athletics Director Robert L. Scalise said in an interview this month that the new program is a “refinement” of past programs and embodies the department’s new focus on “principled leadership,” a term Scalise added to the department’s motto this year. He said all of the programs in Crimson360 are designed to equip student athletes to better recognize and respond to difficult situations.
“I just want everyone in our department to know that we're about principled leadership, academic integration and competitive excellence,” Scalise said. “We are going to do everything we can to try to prevent these things from happening, but in the event that something happens, how do we react?”
Some of the programs, such as the back-to-school barbecue and workshops for team captains, bring student athletes from different teams together to mingle and share ideas. Other trainings such as the sexual assault prevention program and the alcohol communication and education skills workshops are held on a team-by-team basis throughout the year.
Men’s tennis captain Andy T. Zhou ’19 said organized cross-team events help to forge a unified athletics community, which he said he didn’t think existed his first year in Cambridge.
“People were, across different teams, a little bit more disjointed,” Zhou said. “I think having the big intra-team events definitely helps to bring people and different teams close together. “
The sexual assault prevention and alcohol education trainings are the only Crimson360 programs that are required for all student-athletes. These mandatory workshops come in addition to other College-mandated trainings all undergraduates must complete.
LaPointe wrote that, though the department does not track participation rates for the optional programs, so far administrators have seen “great turnouts.”
Men’s fencing captain Eli Dershwitz ’18–’20 said, though he’s a third-year student athlete and second-year captain, he still finds the workshops useful.
“I’ve definitely felt that these captain leadership programs in general are very helpful not only because they give athletes of different teams the ability to you know, talk with the administration or talk with leaders on campus, but also it gives captains of different respective teams the ability to talk with each other about similar problems they face,” Dershwitz said.
When asked whether she would add any programs to the Crimson360 roster, women’s basketball captain Madeline M. Raster ’19 said she would launch a workshop to help seniors transition to post-graduate life.
“As a senior looking ahead, I think a really great one would be about transitioning as an athlete to a non-athlete as you graduate just because sports are a huge part of your life and a huge part of your identity,” Raster said.
— Staff writer Madeleine R. Nakada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.