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Social Justice Campaign is an Equality Coalition Initiative

ROSEMONT, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference is kicking off the football season with the launch of the ‘United As One’ social justice campaign.  ‘United As One’ is among several conference-wide Equality Coalition initiatives dedicated to constructively and collectively recognizing and eliminating racism and hate in our society by creating resources for inclusion, empowerment and accountability.

“All things are possible in the Big Ten when we unite as one,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “I am humbled and deeply appreciative of how our 14 member institutions have communicated, collaborated and committed to develop a conference-wide campaign focused on creating equality and equity in our society.”

The ‘United As One’ icon was created by Big Ten Conference Associate Director of Branding Chris Althoff. The design is a word cloud arranged in the shape of the [Big Ten] number one. This visual representation of the purpose and passion of the Equality Coalition will debut on all 14 Big Ten Conference campuses this weekend and feature prominently alongside and in support of each university’s unique social justice awareness campaign, as follows:

  • Wisconsin v. Illinois [BTN] Badger student-athletes debut the special edition patch of the university crest logo – featuring a black “W” as a sign of support – on all UW Athletic Department uniforms, while University of Illinois student-athletes will show their support for Black Lives Matter with helmet stickers and markings of ‘Equality,’ ‘Together,’ ‘I Fight Against Racism,’ and ‘United.”
  • Minnesota v. Michigan [ABC \ ESPN Game Day] In Minnesota, student-athletes will encourage others to ‘End Racism’ through jersey back nameplates and promotion of H.E.R.E/Helping End Racism with Education. Michigan student-athletes will adorn their helmets with the message ‘Equality’ and multi-colored fists. Both schools are planning robust social and online campaigns to generate additional awareness.
  • Michigan State v. Rutgers [BTN] The helmets of Michigan State football players will feature ‘Black Lives Matter’ stickers. The Rutgers football players will be wearing “Chop 4 Change” on the back of their helmets.
  • Ohio State v. Nebraska [FOX] Ohio State football players will wear back of helmet stickers that state ‘Equality’ and debut a specially designed pre-game t-shirt as an additional show of support.  Stickers on Cornhuskers helmets will generate awareness for social justice issues by paying tribute to George Flippin, the first African American football player for the University of Nebraska.
  • Indiana v. Penn State [FS1] Socially distanced spectators at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington will hear the “Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” statement during pre-game activities. A campaign logo, designed by IU Athletics staff in consultation with student-athletes, arranged the words peace, love, human rights, justice, equality, compassion, together, understanding, united, empathy, and power into a raised fist icon. The logo will be featured on jersey patches and helmet stickers. Nittany Lions student-athletes will wear pre-game t-shirts, uniform patches and helmet stickers featuring hands clasped in union and an outline of the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Purdue v. Iowa [BTN] Boilermakers will be raising awareness of social justice throughout the season with a variety of activities. Iowa student-athletes plan to promote equality and equity with custom stickers and social media engagement.
  • Northwestern v. Maryland [BTN] Northwestern student-athletes will wear pregame t-shirts emblazoned with a fist icon and the message: “True change will only come once everyone in this country feels the same outrage as black people.” Maryland has personalized the message by replacing the ‘O’ in ‘ONE TERP’ with a raised fist. Further, the ideals of empathy, unity, respect, equality, justice and the phrases “End Racism” and “In Solidarity” will be shared via nameplate messages and field markings.

About the Big Ten Equality Coalition

The Big Ten Conference is committed to equipping all people to recognize and combat hate and racism and to cement a more equitable, inclusive and empowered society. The Big Ten Conference established the Equality Coalition in 2020 with 229 members including presidents and chancellors, directors of athletics, coaches, student-athletes, conference and school administrators, alumni, families and friends representing all 14 institutions.

The five Equality Coalition subcommittees — Education, Inclusion, Community Engagement, Partnership and Public Affairs — are actively developing programming and initiatives addressing voter registration, voting, implicit bias training, diversity and engagement programming, best-practices for hiring and conference-wide directory for community outreach programs.

The Big Ten Equality Coalition has, to date, launched several evergreen social justice initiatives in addition to ‘United As One.’  #B1GVote was established in partnership with the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights as a nonpartisan conference-wide educational collaboration to encourage student-athletes to take part in the electoral process.

About the Big Ten Conference

The Big Ten Conference (bigten.org) is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013.