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PLT Insights: Athletic Director Ryan Bowles

To get insights for the student body, BORSC member Bergen Senf ’24 regularly meets with PLT member and Athletic Director Ryan Bowles. PLT is the Presidential Leadership Team of St. Olaf College, learn more here.

Our first meeting on October 16th, 2020 was a meaningful conversation that provided a foundation for communication between the Athletic Department and BORSC. After discussing the developments of this fall concerning anti racism and the experiences of BIPOC students on campus, Athletic Director Ryan Bowles provided insights into the inner working of the department. First, he expressed his pride for the active participation of student athletes in voter registration initiatives, student protests, and advocating for change in the St. Olaf community. He added that “words are just words, and we need to be held accountable by our student athletes.”

After recent cultural competency surveys, training, and discussions, the department is looking for new ways to work on behalf of student athletes. Specifically, the athletic department is currently developing both team specific goals for recruiting, and department wide hiring initiatives to “be really intentional” about seeking a more diverse athletic community, said Bowles. Another topic of discussion was equity and access for student athletes of all financial backgrounds. As a result of COVID-19, equitable access to training equipment and resources has become more difficult. After students were sent home last spring, many athletes used their own means to access training facilities or coaching that they would have received on campus.

Given that St. Olaf is a DIII school, it does not offer the same financial benefits to athletes in comparison to DI or DII institutions. However, Bowles is committed to improving equity and access for all student athletes, especially in the coming months when students return home for the extended break. A specific action he cited was his direction to the athletic training staff to develop workouts with limited equipment, cognizant of the high costs of gym memberships.

In our next meeting, I look forward to continuing the conversation with Athletic Director Bowles and discussing the issues impacting student athletes and the St. Olaf community as a whole.

If you have any questions you would like to brought to Ryan Bowles or any of the PLT members, please submit them here.

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