NUBAC seeks to promote Black athletes’ voices on campus


Photo Courtesy of NU Athletics

Sam Culver, news correspondent

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, a group of student-athletes founded the Northeastern University Black Athlete Caucus, or NUBAC, with the goal of using their platform to create a permanent outlet to empower Black athletes and create positive change.

Over this past summer, fourth-year business administration student Khailah Griffin and graduate business administration student Erica Belvit, both track and field athletes, got together to discuss ways that they could help the growing problem of social injustice, especially in the Northeastern athletic community, where some Black athletes had concerns about not being heard.

“[Erica and I] started brainstorming ways that we can have an impact on the school, and that is when we formed NUBAC and just took it from there,” Griffin said. “We just made the decision that we were going to do something about what was going on, and we were going to build something that would continue throughout the entirety of Northeastern, not just something that is in the moment. We knew that with social media it makes it feel like things are a trend, but obviously the injustices haven’t stopped and nothing’s changed, but we can start off by implementing things that last a while.” 

Second-year psychology student Mide Oriyomi, the current NUBAC president, echoed Griffin’s thoughts on the hope for longevity in the founding of the caucus.

“[The murder of George Floyd] really inspired two seniors to make sure we had a movement, not a moment and people wouldn’t forget about everything that happened,” Oriyomi said. 

After founding the group, Griffin has taken on an adviser role, guiding Oriyomi and the other members of the e-board with her vision, while letting them be the “face and the mouthpiece and the leaders driving it,” she said. 

Griffin felt that creating a lasting impact would be easier if younger students took on leadership positions, so that the same core group would be driving change for a couple years and could make sure to get the caucus off to a great start.

Currently, the caucus is focusing on establishing a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization helping people of color, working with community schools and continuing to have meetings within the Northeastern Black student-athlete community. NUBAC will soon be partnering with a youth program in Boston to give underprivileged children the opportunity to see what it’s like to attend an elite school like Northeastern and be a Division 1 athlete. Griffin is excited about how the body meetings have helped to amplify Black voices that might have previously gone unheard.

“We have about 50 Black student athletes at Northeastern, with 25 on the track team. The rest of the 25 are sparse throughout all the teams, so there might be just one or one to two Black people on a team,” Griffin said. “As much as you have a sense of community, it can be hard when you are the only one in the space. I think that one of things we were tackling over the past semester was just saying this is your space and your time, so if you ever need anything this is the group for you.”

In addition to its own body meetings, a large part of what NUBAC does on campus is meeting and working with the administration. Both Griffin and Oriyomi stressed the importance of holding it accountable.

“We are having monthly meetings with the administration to check in and make sure we are holding them accountable for everything they said they would do and keeping them updated,” Oriyomi said.

This sentiment comes especially due to a lack of diversity in the administration.

“We have been building action-oriented plans with the administration, making sure they’re being held accountable for the things they say they are going to do,” Griffin said.

One important achievement between the administration and the NUBAC was the suspension of all athletic events on election day to give student-athletes a chance to vote. All scheduled games, practices, workouts and team-related events were cancelled that day, Nov. 3, and will continue to be cancelled on subsequent election days in order for student-athletes to have the opportunity to vote.

“Young people tend to find excuses not to vote or feel that their voice does not matter or that they have something better to do. We wanted to make sure there was no excuse on that day. Forgoing all athletic events that day really gave me the time to go out and vote,” Oriyomi said. “Voting will create the change that is necessary in our community. Collective action is key to social solidarity amongst our society. For that reason, we encourage every student-athlete to vote.”

Despite being less than a year old, the NUBAC has already made progress on giving Black student-athletes at Northeastern a community, so their thoughts can be freely voiced; making positive impacts geared around social justice at the school and the wider Boston area. Leadership has no plans for the group to fizzle away, with Griffin hoping that they “have something that’s going to be established in Northeastern forever.”