The National Ski Patrol recognizes that, along with the rest of the industry, we have work to do regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Increasing the diversity of our membership is a key part of our vision themes in our Strategic Plan. Like many in our industry, we are committed to this journey. A recent column by NSP Chair Brian Rull in Ski Patrol Magazine has prompted us to re-examine where we are, and the best way to move forward toward a more inclusive organization.
Brian used a reference that some readers found offensive or inappropriate. Brian and the NSP recognize that the words that he used are not aligned with NSP’s or his own values. In a recent note to members, Brian has taken responsibility and apologized:
“Language in my Fall column that referenced an ‘Asian woman’ was the result of an unfortunate editing error as I tightened the copy for publication. I intended to refer to a through-traveler from Asia during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in my haste to make deadline, I sent language that I recognize is offensive and that does not reflect my beliefs. I alone take responsibility and apologize.”
– Brian Rull, National Chair
The following questions and answers address the issue and how the NSP is moving forward.
Q: Why did Brian think the words he chose were appropriate?
A: Brian is guilty of sloppy editing. He was trying to shorten his column on deadline, got in a hurry, and didn’t pay close attention to the words that did not accurately capture what he meant. A reference to a through-passenger from Asia in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic was truncated to “Asian woman.” Brian has apologized repeatedly and takes full responsibility.
Q: How has Brian responded to this situation?
A: Brian is horrified by the poor choice of words, understands their hurtful nature, has apologized and takes sole responsibility for his actions. Our Board echoes Brian’s public apology, as his words do not reflect what the Board believes or what the NSP stands for. Immediately after the column was published in October, Brian offered to resign because he did not want to become a distraction. The Board rejected his offer. The Board rejected a second offer again in December after inaccurate online posts began appearing.
Q: Why did the Board reject Brian’s resignation?
A: Our Board members have had numerous conversations with Brian about his column in the two months since it was published. The Board took into account how the words at issue came to appear in print, as well as Brian’s long and consistent record of service within the NSP, and his expressed and renewed commitment to the goals of diversity and inclusion. The Board unanimously rejected his request and stands fully behind him today.
Q: What has been the response from members and partners?
A: In the two months since the column was published, some comments to Brian, other Board members and staff have been critical, but an equal number have offered encouragement and support while providing ideas for positive change. Most importantly, the response has put a spotlight on the very real diversity and inclusion issues across the mountain and snow sports industry. Our members and partners rightly expect us to set an example – and we are committed to doing just that.
Q: What is NSP doing to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion?
A: The challenges facing the ski industry are significant and complex – and they require collective efforts. Our time and energy is best spent working together with other industry groups and our partners to ensure snow and mountain sports enjoy a healthy and prosperous future that welcomes everyone. We need to roll up our sleeves and develop innovative ways to improve diversity, affordability and accessibility for a larger, more inclusive base. As an educational organization, we recognize that we are in a unique position to provide opportunities for more people from all backgrounds to find careers and fulfillment in the mountains.
As the largest volunteer organization affiliated with ski areas, we have demonstrated again and again that our mission is to serve ALL in need. At our December Board meeting, we reaffirmed our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in mountain sports we all love. This reinforces our ongoing efforts, which include a diversity task force focused on equity and inclusion; concerted outreach built into our strategic plan to increase the diversity of our membership; interviews with patrollers of color about their experiences; and ongoing collaboration with industry partners to support and expand their efforts.
Q: Online reports claim the Executive Director of the National Ski Patrol was fired because of the language in Brian’s column. Is that true?
A: No. The departure of NSP’s Executive Director is unrelated to Brian’s column. Unfortunately, inaccurate information has been published in recent days linking the two. The column was published in October, the Executive Director departed a month later and online posts connecting the two appeared a month after that. We’d like to be loud and clear in setting the record straight: These are distinct issues and claims to the contrary are speculative and false.
Q: So why did the Executive Director leave NSP?
A: As we hope you can appreciate, personnel issues are – for a host of very good reasons – private matters between individuals and employers, and this is no exception. In keeping with long-standing management and governance policies and privacy practices, the NSP will not discuss the Executive Director’s departure beyond the Nov. 18 announcement of her departure.
Q: How can I provide feedback and be part of the conversation?
A: Please send messages for the NSP staff and board to firstname.lastname@example.org.