Architecture sophomore Zoe Paris did not plan on starting a club during a virtual spring quarter. However, after attending Crossroads, a conversation series through the Multicultural Center (MCC), her and journalism sophomore Naomi Vanderlip saw a need to continue these dialogues and started the Multiracial Students’ Association (MuSA).
“I just remember feeling this sense of unity with everyone,” Paris said. “Just comfort in the words that they were saying, I was like ‘oh my god, you just spoke what’s on my mind too.’”
Paris said the goal of the club is to create a space for mixed race people to have discussions and share their experiences.
“One of the main things about college for anyone of any race or any identity is to become who they are and explore their identity,” Paris said. “So I think it’s important that people can really explore what it means to be multiracial to them, and how they personally define and navigate that area of their life.”
Paris said she was excited to learn more about other topics within the club such as monoracism, and other people’s experience with being mixed-race.
Graduate student and club advisor Jacob Campbell met Paris and Vanderlip at the MCC discussion. Campbell, who is also multiracial, said that growing up, it was hard for him to talk about the issue because there were so few multiracial people his age.
“It wasn’t something I felt like I could talk to my parents about because they weren’t mixed race,” Campbell said. “It’s nice to find a community to share that experience with.”
Campbell said an important part of the club when developing it with co-presidents Paris and Vanderlip was to ensure that it felt accessible to everyone.
“There’s value in creating community around sort of the middle ground or gray areas when you might not feel like you fit in just one box,” Campbell said.
Although the club is called the “Multiracial Students’ Association,” Campbell said that there is diversity within the mixed identity that does not necessarily have to do with race.
“Mixed identity might not be multiracial,” Campbell said. “It might be biracial, it might be multi-ethnic, it might include folks who are transracial adoptees, maybe even people in interracial relationships, so there’s a lot of ways in which we can identify as being mixed.”
A goal Campbell hopes to see in the club is to find ways to involve staff and faculty in the club to create a larger community throughout Cal Poly that will reach beyond just the students.
Sophomore psychology major Litzy Lopez who runs the club’s social media said that by meeting people through the Multicultural Center and other culture clubs on campus, she was able to accept parts about identity that she had struggled with in highschool.
“I was really left out when I was a kid,” Lopez said. “I don’t want freshmen or other people to feel left out.”
The club is important to Lopez because she wants to create more spaces for her younger step-sister who is mixed as well.
“It [the club] opens dialogues for people to feel accepted with who they are and know that there are other people going through the same thing or have gone through the same thing, and it’s nice to hear that you’re not alone,” Lopez said. “There’s other people who have struggled and there’s other people who have overcome.”
MuSA meets Mondays at 8 p.m. For more information, follow their Instagram account.