Jasper Talk: Kaya Simpson ‘23 Named Manhattan SAAC Diversity Chair

by Shannon GlebaCopy Editor and Staff Writer

As part of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s United for Justice Campaign which began in August, the MAAC encouraged its eleven schools to expand their Student Athlete Advisory Committees’ Executive Boards to include a Diversity Chair. This year, sophomore exercise science major Kaya Simpson, who is a sprinter on the Manhattan track and team, was chosen for the role to represent the school.

To learn more about his background and his plans in the position, The Quadrangle spoke with Simpson after the announcement of his naming to the Executive Board.

The Quadrangle: What made you choose to apply to be the Diversity Chair on SAAC this year?

Kaya Simpson: Honestly, I saw it as an opportunity to put myself out there and do something new. I talked to a couple of my teammates and they thought it would be something good to start and add a fresh mind to it since I am young and I like to be open and have raw, open conversations. So, I felt like it was a good fit.

TQ: What insights do you think you can bring to this position?

KS: Like I said, I am still young and I feel like I have been exposed to a lot of different people, and I am involved in a lot of different groups. I am a military child, so I have lived in a lot of different areas across the country. So, I have been exposed to a lot of different peoples’ opinions and views. I have a good understanding of how we can bring people together and include different backgrounds and make sure we are focusing on educating one another and not just forcefully putting stuff on each other, Making sure we are holding each other accountable and educating each other and not just forcing our opinions on each other without background information. 

TQ: Why do feel it is important for all MAAC schools to have a Diversity Chair on their Executive Boards?

KS: It is something that is not talked about a lot and I think it was a great thing for the MAAC to make those initial steps. Back in May when everything was pretty heated, and a lot of discriminiation and racial problems started coming up, I felt that it was important to know that as student athletes we have the support of our Athletic Departments and our conference because we work really closely with them. I felt like knowing that we have another person or another group that supports us is a big thing.

TQ: Looking forward to the rest of the year, do you have any plans that you have been working on with SAAC so far?

KS: We just finished with the NCAA Inclusion and Diversity Program that was two weeks ago. Since the semester is still wrapping up and everything, I think it is important that we look forward to next semester since it was pretty sudden. Since we are coming back at the end of January, I think we talked about maybe doing a campaign during Black History Month. Also, focusing on different student athletes and maybe highlighting different initiatives. Definitely during this time, during break, working on different things we can start promoting every month for the next semester.

TQ: Since you have been in the position, what has the feedback generally been from the rest of the Board and other student-athletes at the school?

KS: It has been really eye-opening to see that you have support from so many different people. People I don’t even know, I have now become friends with and I have gotten recognition about it from people I have never really even spoken to.