Letter to the Editors: Response to “Who Is Your Service Really Serving?”

We want to start by thanking the student body of Villanova. Your support, dedication, and passion are the reasons why Special Olympics Fall Festival impacts thousands of participants every year. When Villanova’s community has concerns about DEI, we believe it’s an opportunity for discussion. If one person feels this way, perhaps others feel the same.

My name is Corrine Sullivan and I am this year’s DEI and Awareness chair for Villanova’s Special Olympics Committee. Recognizing privilege, realizing bias, and increasing awareness are catalyzers for change. Change starts with understanding – understanding the injustices, inequalities, and ultimate exclusion in the world. As students, we listen to the athletes, their families, fellow students, and our parent organization SOPA (Special Olympics Pennsylvania). We strive to create a culture of inclusion based on feedback from our stakeholders.

We plan Fall Festival, one small piece of a larger organization, SOPA. SOPA is part of the global organization, Special Olympics. Special Olympics is “the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and activities to 5 million participants and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.” They advocate on Capitol Hill every year for people of all abilities and backgrounds. We collaborate with the executives of SOPA weekly. Aligning our missions, learning from each other, and ultimately working to provide the best experience for each athlete and family member at Fall Festival is the role we play. Whether the athletes are coming from low socioeconomic households, are people of color, have undiagnosed disabilities, or anything in between, we at Villanova, as well as Special Olympics as a whole, welcome them. 

The DEI and Awareness Committee is involved with all avenues in Villanova’s SpO organization to increase inclusive efforts across the board. Every day we are learning how to be better. We are students, not teachers. The thing about learning is it’s infinite. We lead in-person workshops where we learn about diverse experiences and break down barriers via interpersonal communication. Recently, we discussed non-verbal forms of communication and held an American Sign-Language workshop. In-person presence has power, we never use Zoom to facilitate these discussions post-pandemic. 

SpO is constantly revising diversity initiatives in tandem with the systemic structure of Villanova. The committee includes representatives from across Pennsylvania who share their perspectives as Special Olympics athletes. Welcoming them into our Committee helps us better understand how we can cater our decisions to the athletes and make their experience at Fall Fest more inclusive. The Administration Team made the website accessible for all and even provided paper registration for those without internet access. Our passion for inclusion, although imperfect, cannot be underestimated. 

The goal is to unite Villanova so when the athletes arrive this fall, they feel as if they are home. So today and going forward, I invite you to dive into diversity, don’t be afraid to listen, and have the courage to include.

Please reach out if you want more information. I promise to listen and learn alongside you. 



Corrine Sullivan, Karoline Menze, Cole Moros, Moira Horan, Emily McCarthy, Francesca Guarrera, and Mary Kilmartin

[email protected]