UFLi Digital Archive

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Category: Identity Center

Felicia Salinas-Moniz (Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender)

For our last Community Narrative of the semester, we interviewed Felicia Salinas-Moniz (she/her/hers), Senior Assistant Director at the Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender & Adjunct Visiting Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
I’m good, aside from a cold. I’m feeling good. It’s been chaotic. I just recently had to care for my daughter who had some medical issues. I feel very fortunate to be so supported by the Sarah Doyle. The staff have been amazing in supporting me and my family. I’ve really appreciated that. Now I’m just really excited to be back and be planning for the spring. 

How would you describe Sarah Doyle to a student that may not know about it or may want to learn more?
We are very cozy. Cozy is the first word that comes to mind. A cozy, comfortable space. A lot of students come through and use this multipurpose space. We have student organizations that meet here regularly for their group meetings. We also employ a staff of 8 undergrad students and 2 grad student staffers. They’re the ones who really drive the programming of the center.

We have a lot of great resources aside from being a comfy space with programs and events. We have a library with over 4000 gender and women texts. We have a new zine library that one of our alums organized last year, Malana Krongelb. We also have a children’s library, started by the grad parent coordinators. It’s a collection that centers social justice and feminism for young readers. We also have a community garden and an art gallery.

How do you see the programming at the Sarah Doyle center in conversation with the programming of UFLi Center? How have past collaborations come about?
The last collaboration, the power wands, was actually quite organic. I was in conversation with Renata and Julio, hearing about the programs the UFLi Center was working on. We were concurrently bringing Consuelo Jimenez Underwood and I was looking for help with the creation of the power wands for the exhibit. Consuelo, the artist, gave us guidance but we were really the ones that needed to be the drivers for students to create them. We were also in conversation with Jorge Vargas from CAPS.

Jorge, Julio, Renata, and I planned how we were going to facilitate this workshop. Really, the goal was to get students to talk about the powers they have within themselves. That’s really at the center of the support of students that we do. We want to provide opportunities for students to reflect and be able to think about the powers they already hold within themselves to be able to sustain being a student at a predominantly white institution. So the workshop was a way to get to that. It was a great way for people to reflect on what are the good things I do, how does that connect to the ancestors who I hold dear? 

Part of the exhibit was to honor an ancestor visually on the power wand, maybe somebody who immigrated here. It was a really great way for people to share their stories, to talk about the complexities of their lives, and see commonalities among each other. Sometimes people don’t fancy themselves artists but to have the opportunity to make something was great.

I see the connection between our centers as providing more opportunities for students to do that creative work they may not get inside a classroom setting, but also to develop that sense of space and home. The reason we hosted it at the Sarah Doyle was we wanted to help students who may frequent the UFLi Center to feel like Sarah Doyle is another home. I always feel like I want students to expand the homes they have on campus.  

Who are you when you’re not at Brown?
I fancy myself a baker. I’m an aspiring baker. I think in another life I would have gone to a culinary track. When I’m not at work or thinking about work, I get lost in baking and making delicious food and especially doing that with my daughter. 

Something you’re looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to the spring, just weather wise. It’s so cold. You can take the girl out of California but you can’t take the California out of the girl. I’m still adjusting to New England Weather and I’ve lived here for 10 years. 

Maurisa Li-A-Ping (Brown Center for Students of Color)

This week, we interviewed Maurisa Li-A-Ping (she/her/hers), the Coordinator of First-Year & Sophomore Programs at the Brown Center for Students of Color. Maurisa is from Brooklyn, NY but believes home is where you make it. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
My year has been really exciting. I got to launch my new program, radical FOUNDATIONS, which is a first-year program/cohort for students of color looking to do groundwork within themselves. My thought is, I want to help you see the light within yourself and help you thrive here. If there are skills you want to learn, let me help connect you to them.

This is my second year here. The first year of my job was observant. By the second year, I feel confident I can do something. I’ve really been working with the BCSC media team. I think the BCSC has a rich history but I want people to know the people who work here. I think people connect better to people versus an idea. People want to see themselves – they want to hear their stories. Social media can be really toxic but it can also be a really great way to connect people.

How do you see the programming at the BCSC in conversation with the UFLi Center? How have collaborations come about?
There are intersections between undocumented, first-generation, low income folks and folks of color. The work of it on paper shows our centers overlap because of intersectional identities. Because I am a first-generation, low-income, person of color and I come from a family of immigrants, I’m very interested in that intersection. I think what makes the work easier is when you get to know the people.

Yes, the UFLi Center has great values and the BCSC has great values. But when I got here, I built relationships with Julio and Renata. On paper our work is connected but it’s also about the way we live our lives. Yes, you can say you’re all for this but how are you living your life at the end of the day? That’s what’s really hard. 

Any collaborations coming up?
Myself, Julio, and Renata are presenting in New Orleans. The event is hosted by NASPA. It’s a student affairs association. Part of their theme this year is advancing equity and inclusive practice. Basically, me, Renata, and Julio have thought about our equity-asset based (EAB) approach. We’ve done some really great work around EAB and want to share that with our communities, whether radical FOUNDATIONS, FLiSP, UFLi, or just scholars among us. We want to highlight some of the best practices we have cultivated and the ways in which we bring in the EAB approach.

The FLiSP Scholars and radical FOUNDATIONS cohort members are also having a Providence outing together. Part of the values of radical FOUNDATIONS and FLiSP is to get students engaged to the larger Providence community. We want to get them off the hill and show them there’s so much more than Brown. What does it mean to honor the land and space to explore community in a helpful way and not exploitative way? We’ll be going to dinner at a POC-owned restaurant. Then, thinking about how art cultivates community, we want to show there are lots of folks to be in community with if folks are looking to venture outside of Brown. We’ll be taking them to Trinity Rep. 

We have another collaboration with the BCSC as a whole and the UFLi Center. Me and Olivia are going to bring our experiences in about redefining resistance at the intersection of these identities. We want to redefine what resistance looks like. You don’t always have to be showing up at rallies, protests, sit-ins. There are so many different ways to resist and so much capital we have when we enter spaces. We really want students to see the assets they bring and show them that naming those and using them can be a form of resistance.

Something you’re looking forward to?
I was talking to my friend and realized that once I graduated from graduate school, I was really tired. I had been working at such an exponentially high rate for the last 4 to 6 years that I stopped doing the things I love in a very active way. I’m excited to get back into poetry, to be performing, doing workshops and trainings for different universities and organizations. It’s something I used to do a bit more but I think I needed some time to breathe and enjoy life after all the hard work I’ve been putting in the last few years. I want to do workshops with folks, to get back out there, and be in community around different practices.

Julio Reyes (’12) and Renata Mauriz (‘17.5)

This week, we’re introducing our newest project highlighting our collaborations with identity centers on campus. To kick off the project, we interviewed our very own Julio Reyes (he/him/his) and Renata Mauriz (she/her/hers). Reyes ’12 is the Program Director of the U-FLi Center & Mauriz ’17 is the Student Success Coordinator and works closely with the FLi Students Program (FLiSP). Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
J: I’m doing well. I’m a little sick. It’s the end of September. I think a lot of students have been sick recently but I’m feeling good about the year ahead and all the things we’re going to be doing.

R: I’m doing well. I’m proud to have managed to not have gotten sick throughout September when everyone around me was on Vitamin C on a daily basis. I’m a little sad it’s 50 degrees today but I’m hoping my light lamp will lift up my mood.

Jumping right in, can you talk about the equity-asset-based approach and how that ties into the programming at the center?
J: An equity-asset based approach, or EAB, is doing multiple things simultaneously. I think it’s understanding that there are systemic issues and problems that impact a students ability to be here at Brown or succeed academically. It’s acknowledging the systems of oppression students might be confronting. The asset based piece says, yes we have a systemic analysis, but we also understand that regardless or maybe in spite of those challenges, students come to Brown with different strengths and values that make them stand out and help them navigate the institution. It’s what happens, unfortunately, at private elite institutions like the one we’re at right now. Some of those values U-FLi students might have aren’t normalized in our current culture. Our work is to make sure we’re helping students really understand what those strength are and helping them map that onto how they navigate Brown. 

R: And the equity aspect of this also comes in thinking about, we’re not saying things are not going to be hard, or that there are no barriers to access or to success in our community. We’re acknowledging that there are, both outside the institution as larger systems like the immigration system, the economic system, and in the institution. So we’re saying let’s work with administrators to assess what those barriers are on a more systemic level instead of creating band-aid solutions.

How do you see the programming at the UFLi center in conversation with the programming of other identity centers? How have past collaborations come about?
R: Part of shifting away from doing our programming as a center individually has been really critically thinking about the experiences students hold and the identities they bring once they enter Brown through an intersectional lens. A student may come into Brown, maybe queer, maybe low-income, maybe first-gen, maybe a person of color — why should our programming not reflect that intersectionality with their identities and experiences?

J: I think by having us think very intentionally about the concept of intersectionality, but also intersectional identities, we understand that people come with different experiences and backgrounds but also understand the ways in which oppression underlies all of that. I think it’s been important for us to look at how we’re providing avenues or platforms for people who sit at the margins of communities. So you’ll notice that a lot of our programming does center queer and trans people of color. Not always, but that’s where we’re focusing our work right now. We’re making sure we’re highlighting different experiences and the work of different people who are doing interesting things, either at Brown or elsewhere. Then we also have the opportunity to collaborate with other centers that have similar social justice values that we do and want to work really intentionally on these projects.

R: It all starts with relationships as well. Julio and I try to be very intentional about actually getting to know other staff that we’re collaborating with and even ask does this idea feel good for us to do as a team? Not necessarily doing something because we feel like we have to but doing something that’s also thinking about ourselves and what we’re bringing but also what we’re taking from an experience together.

What are you hoping to see in this year’s programming?
J: We have ideas. We haven’t necessarily sat down and determined exactly what we’re going to do and who we’re going to invite. We’re really thinking about issues related to class, but also things that impact immigrant communities. We want to do it in a way that also centers the idea of creation. What are people having to create due to whatever circumstances they’re living in? I think that really does speak to an EAB approach. Yes, there are systemic issues in the problem but there are people in the world that fall within particular identities that we work with under the U-FLi center that are cultivating communities or creating new programs or creating new initiatives or creating things as artists that are counter to some of these trauma narratives we’re so used to hearing about working class immigrant communities. That’s kind of what we want to focus on this year.

R: I think starting with the three DJs that we brought to campus was a way for us to think about the folks sitting at the margins in specific industries as well. We invited them not necessarily for them to speak about their experiences as queer undocumented women of color, but for them to speak about how have they, despite of all of the lack of access to opportunities, how have they created the spaces and the opportunities and the work that enables them to thrive through a creative lens. It’s putting out there different forms of resistance and different ways of being in relationship with one another and creating and working that are conducive to the type of world we want to live in.

Something you’re looking forward to?
J: I’m looking forward to connecting with more students and seeing the center grow. By that I mean the amount of engagement we see with students. We’ve already seen an increase just this past month but I’m excited to see where we go with that, how we can connect with more first year students and get to know them, and hearing what students might want and need from the center.

R: Similarly to Julio, I do look forward to continuing to cultivate genuine relationships with students and being someone who I wish I had a relationship with when I was a student. In a lot of ways I’ve been able to do a 360. As I was a student struggling at some point in this university, now I have an opportunity to be on the other side of things and be a system of support, not just in times of crises but also in times of joy and celebration. So I’m looking forward to creating more spaces for joy among our student population like our block party. I’m looking forward to taking over more spaces where I see laughter and see community happening in real time.

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