As freshmen, our first year at UC Irvine is a whirlwind of new living situations, making new friends, being an adult and making choices of what organizations to join on campus. For some of us, we become peer educators, find jobs, apply for internships or rush the Greek system. One of the unique outlets provided for UCI students is the ever present and ever growing cultural clubs. These clubs pull students together to celebrate and connect with others over their shared heritage and family backgrounds. With the rise of interracial relationships, a space became needed for mixed students who felt wrong only checking one ethnicity box. And so, from these dual cultural identities, the Mixed Student Organization was born.
The Mixed Student Organization was founded in 1997 in an effort to reform the application process for multiracial students. UC students can now check more than one box in the “race” sector of their applications. Formerly known as HAPA MIX and Mixed Student Organization, UCI M.I.X. (Multicultural Interracial Exchange) is now a social club devoted to integrating people of all races together. For current president Michelle Maasz, this club has become an outlet for students of all backgrounds to come and explore the multiracial experience.
“Growing up, I feel like as kids we don’t realize that we are mixed race,” Maasz said. “For me, my mother is from the Philippines so I have this entire family history that I am not as in touch with or familiar with because I spent my childhood growing up here. Growing up, I hung out with a lot of white kids and that thought I was ‘so Asian.’ But when I moved to California and started hanging out with Filipino kids, they would say that I was ‘white washed.’ It is interesting that people identify you with different sides at different times in your life. This club is important because we never really fit anywhere.”
The goal of this organization is to create an open space for all races to come and feel like they don’t have to identify with one side of their background or the other. Instead of having to choose a side, they embrace all aspects that make up each other’s identity.
“It is important for people to explore what their identity is in college, regardless of the race that they are,” Maasz said. “When we come to college we are thrust into this entirely new environment and have the option to explore our identity and different cultures. A lot of people in this club are not mixed at all and became interested in it because they want a place to belong. With many of us being mixed kids we talk a lot about race, identity and the implications that being mixed race will have on the future generations.”
The Mixed Student Organization not only has social events and mixers like other clubs, but this year has also teamed up with the Be the Match club. This is an issue that directly impacts the mixed race community because it is harder for mixed-race kids to find a bone marrow match.
With a year of mixers, retreats to Palm Springs and Big Bear, collaborations with other cultural clubs on campus and a growth of membership, M.I.X. is looking forward to fostering a welcoming and all accepting place on campus for students who want to learn about different cultures while also getting to know people of all majors, backgrounds and years on campus.
“For mixed kids, we always have one foot in one door and one foot in the other. This club is a large group of friends that are familiar with your background and your multiracial experience,” said Maasz. “Our club is very open because maybe in our lives we felt like we didn’t have a nice our whole lives but now we do in this special little family.”
For more information, club meetings are held every Wednesday in Humanities Hall. Like their Facebook group at UCI M.I.X. for event details and meeting locations.