Northwestern sophomores form group for mixed race students

Julian Gerez, Reporter

One year ago, Medill sophomore Kalina Silverman, a half-Chinese, half-White, Jewish student browsed through the bustling activities fair. Amid the numerous student cultural groups, Silverman couldn’t find a home.

“I went to a couple events hosted by the Chinese Students Association, and Hillel and I didn’t feel like I fully fit in,” Silverman said.

Silverman’s friend, SESP sophomore Tori Marquez, had a similar problem.

“I identify as mixed race because I don’t feel completely comfortable identifying myself just as Caucasian or just as Hispanic … Even as a Hispanic, I’m also Mexican and Peruvian,” Marquez said.

A year later, what started as two friends joking about forming a club for people like them became the Mixed Race Student Coalition, known as MIXED.

The club was recognized by the office of Multicultural Student Affairs this summer. Marquez and Silverman are now the co-presidents.

According to the club’s constitution, MIXED’s objectives are to “create a space for these individuals who consider themselves biracial/multiracial or have an interest in mixed-race affairs.”

Medill sophomore Maya Voelk, MIXED’s marketing director, said that is exactly what she found.

“It really gives me a place to express not only where I’m from and what my family’s about, but also learn what other people are about,” said Voelk, who is of Japanese and Slovenian descent.

Silverman said the club seeks to eventually meet these goals through social events, discussions, fundraisers and campaigns. Voelk said the group’s current focus is on recruiting new members. The club’s Facebook group has more than 100 likes and more than 50 students signed up to join at Associated Student Government’s Activities Fair on Sunday, Silverman said.

“It surpassed what we wanted,” Voelk said.

Silverman said the next step is to emphasize the importance of club members fostering relationships with one another.

“We want to focus on building a foundation of support and community within the group,” she said.

The club will host events, such as aptly named “mixers,” to reach this goal. The social activities will not be limited to members of the club.

“(An) important goal of MIXED is not just to bring individuals together but also to bring other student groups together,” Marquez said. “It would be really cool to combine efforts together, MIXED serves as a good bridge because we represent so many different backgrounds.”

Eventually, the club would like to foster constructive conversation on deeply rooted political issues, such as those about what it means to be of mixed race, through discussions and special speaker events, Silverman said.

“The coolest thing about our group is that we all share in common that we’re mixed, but we all come from different backgrounds,” Silverman said. “Being different unites us.”

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