Centering Social Justice and Anti-Racism in Campus Recreation

The DEI Champion Spotlight features Rowan community members who are leading the way in DEI initiatives across campus.  Champions featured in the spotlight serve as a great example of how DEI can be reflected throughout the campus. Meet Taylor Mullens, Assistant Director of Aquatics, as well as read about her team’s important DEI initiatives in Campus Recreation.

Taylor was nominated by a Rowan University colleague who shared, “Taylor has truly led our department’s work to incorporate and instill social justice and anti-racism efforts through intentional dialogues with professional staff and graduate coordinators, embedding and making DEI a priority in student employee training. Taylor furthermore encourages and promotes various DEI/SJICR programs and events. Our department’s DEI strategic action plan is being led by her leadership. I am grateful to have someone to work with to walk the talk in this work."

Taylor Mullens headshot

Tell us about yourself:

I am the Assistant Director of Aquatics and Risk Management for Campus Recreation. My primary role includes the oversight of the lifeguard and swim instructor-student staff team, pool facility operations and aquatic programming. Additionally, I oversee the departmental risk management and emergency action plan procedures, develop and implement safety protocols and am the departmental liaison for all American Red Cross instruction and certification courses. I earned my B.S. in Exercise Science and M.S. in Sports Business from Temple University. By trade, I am a fitness, wellness, and recreation professional, but one of my true passions lies within social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. I feel lucky to have had the support from our Director to take on DEI initiatives within our department and across campus. I currently lead our department DEI committee, serves as a co-chair on the Student Engagement Committee for Flying First, and sit on the board for the University Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC).

Why DEI work is important? 

A college campus brings together thousands of students and each of those students come with varying identities, backgrounds and stories. It is imperative that all departments across campus recognize the importance of our student's intersecting identities, their differences and understand the effects of systems of inequity. How those systems impact each of our students is different, so leaning into that discomfort you feel as you begin to learn the ways in which you play into the power systems and how you can begin to work to dismantle them.

Working for a department on campus that is forward-facing for students, it is important that we constantly work to identify and eliminate barriers for those who hold social and cultural differences. This leads us to ensure the same treatment, opportunities, and advancement for all. By doing so, we can create an environment that is accepting and respects differences, experiences, and perspectives for all student staff, student participants, and faculty and/or staff that participate within our programs and facilities.

DEI initiatives within your department/work:

Campus Recreation was eager to begin working on our action items created for the DEI Division Strategic Action Plan. In order to ensure the action items were put into motion, we created a departmental DEI committee in Spring 2020 made up of professional staff and graduate coordinators. The team meets bi-weekly to discuss action items, upcoming training, development of programs and ways in which we can implement diversity, equity and inclusion in our everyday. I believe it is important to highlight our efforts in centering topics around race, gender, access, etc– our goal has been to normalize these difficult conversations. Some ways in which we normalize these conversations include discussions about articles, books and/or podcasts, scheduling monthly DEI retreats, hosting Real Worlds for our student staff around topics of identity, privilege, biases, etc and holding one another accountable as we learn.  

I look forward to continuing to work together with colleagues who truly believe in making diversity, equity and inclusion a top priority within our department. We are just getting started on our list of action items, but the progress we have made as a team is both exciting and inspiring.  

DEI resources you would like to share:

Rowan University Anti-Racism Coalition (ARC)

The Anti-Racism Coalition at Rowan University meets monthly to engage faculty & staff participants in the work of anti-racism. This space, allows us to shift the responsibility for dismantling racism and systemic oppression from people of color to a collective burden as a community. We promote introspective exploration of personal biases, resource and toolkit development, action planning, and radical vulnerability. 

Through ongoing practice, research, and discussion we will work to create tangible next steps for supporting faculty, staff, and students of color through culturally sustainable change. 

For more information or to get involved, please email: Andrew Havrisko at or Roxie Patton at

National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA)

The National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association have a series of resources for equity, diversity and inclusion that are directly related to campus recreation. This includes an in-depth guidebook, webinars, message boards and an accessible network of professionals within the field. 


Rowan aquatics

Rowan University aquatic staff at the end of the year banquet in 2019.