By Adam Ortiz
Since joining the field of Student Affairs in 2008, I have found one common trait among all of the institutions for which I have worked: at each, there are multiracial-identified students (and, generally, staff and faculty as well) who desire to connect with others who share similar experiences. Here are five simple ways to increase multiracial discourse on your campus:
1. Put yourself out there. If you identify as multiracial, talk about your experiences when appropriate. If you are involved with groups like the Multiracial Network or if you are interested in scholarly research on multiracial identity, be open about it when the opportunity presents itself. You never know who else in the room has a shared experience or knows a student who is looking for support.
2. Connect with colleagues. If you do not work closely with your Cultural / Diversity Student Center (or campus equivalent), get to know the staff and students who work there. Oftentimes, these staff will be in the know about particular students who are interested in multiracial identity or even in starting a multiracial student group. Attend events and offer your support where needed and if wanted.
3. If one doesn’t exist, start a multiracial student group on your campus. And don’t feel like you need to be complex about it! Sometimes just creating an informal space for students to come together will provide much-needed and much-appreciated solidarity. You can start by making posters, asking your colleagues to spread the word, and providing snacks. See an article co-written by MRN Chair, Victoria Malaney & Kendra Danowski for tips!
4. Host a dialogue on related multiracial topics. If you don’t have the time to commit to starting a full student group, consider facilitating a dialogue or dialogue series addressing topics pertinent to multiracial students. This is even more effective if you can find a small group of students to help develop the dialogue and advertise. Topics that I have seen work include family, friendships, romantic relationships, privilege, and Whiteness.
5. Create room for multiracial discourse in social justice trainings. Whether the conversation is focused on microaggressions, affinity spaces, or intersections, find ways to ensure that multiracial identity is visible. There are numerous social justice-related topics that pertain to multiracial students (monoracism, passing and privilege, and racial fluidity, for example). Creating opportunities to process them will help students to think critically about their identities and likely feel more connected with their peers.
If you have other ideas, please share them with us!