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Ivy League athletes will not be required to participate in any athletic activities on Election Day in 2020.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris released a statement on Thursday announcing initiatives in support of the Black community. 

Among those was designating Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 as a day off from required athletic activities.

Penn Director of Athletic Communications told the Daily Pennsylvanian that Penn Athletics intends to adhere to this Ivy mandate. 

In the statement, Harris also announced that the Ivy League office will be closed on Juneteenth, form a standing committee on diversity and inclusion, and advocate for change in other ways as well. 

“It is long overdue to speak up in support of the Black community, accept responsibility and take deliberate action to condemn all forms of systemic racism and social inequality,” said Harris. “While the Ivy League stands on a storied history, we acknowledge there were unfortunate chapters that did not advance society towards racial equality. Moving forward, it is our pledge to examine and identify structural changes needed to promote a diverse and inclusive culture in all aspects of our operations.

Every member of the Ivy League had already announced individual plans for change in their athletic teams and programs. 

The idea of college athletes taking Election Day off has been gaining steam recently. Two weeks ago, Yale announced that they would be doing it for their athletes, as did the entire America East Conference. On June 12, NCAA President Mark Emmert encouraged all member schools to give athletes the day off. 

Several members of the Penn Athletics community have openly advocated for this policy, including men’s basketball assistant coach Joe Mihalich, who tweeted a petition calling for the NCAA to make a rule change that required the day to be given off.

Finding the time to vote can be difficult for student athletes, who typically have wall-to-wall schedules of practicing and studying. 

The decision by the Ivy League and other NCAA schools is part of a broader wave of athlete empowerment over the last few years. In the last week alone, the governor of Florida signed into law a name, image, and likeness bill and a group of Oklahoma State football players were able to get coach Mike Gundy to loosen team restrictions on apparel and music. 

Penn Athletics announced its own plan of action on June 12.

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