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Mari

It is still bewildering for me to comprehend that it has only been 22 days since I wrote, “My Message to White Students at FBU.” I vividly remember the night I wrote that blog around two in the morning. My roommate was fast asleep and I was trying not to wake her up with my loud typing. I corrected it and reread the blog over and over again. I even debated deleting the whole document altogether, fearing judgement. I was worried that the friendships and relationships I had built with faculty, staff, and students would be tarnished due to the content of the blog. I feared that students would perceive me in a negative light in and out of the classroom. I submitted my blog post that night and went to sleep feeling drained from all of my overthinking.

The next couple days were kind of hectic upon people reading the blog. Students that I didn’t know were approaching me around campus and discussed their thoughts with me. I had Facebook conversations with friends from around the country about it. I attended meetings with my wonderful mentor and dedicated faculty members about the blog. My mom and I had numerous conversations over the phone and what she thought about it. Working with Leslie Doyle and Janelle Julian, we three decided it would be beneficial to host a Forum on Inclusion, discussing some of the points I brought up.

The Forum on Inclusion that I led took place on March 15th. I was in shock to see that a little less than fifty faculty, staff, and students gathered in the very cramped LACE Center in a large circle. While we didn’t solve and address every issue at Fontbonne, we at least started a conversation. Some students disagreed with my points, but that was the intent of writing the blog. I wanted to get a larger conversation going on campus about these issues. Whether we agree or disagree, we are civilly engaging in these, at times, uncomfortable topics. I want to thank everyone who came to the forum with an open mind and willingness to learn from one another. I will close with a quote from the latest edition of Tableaux. “Remember that the dear neighbor may be the person who holds a perspective radically different than your own.”-President Pressimone.

Stay on the lookout for a second Forum on Inclusion coming your way very soon. This ongoing conversation isn’t over yet.

Take care,

Mari

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On Tuesday, February 21st I attended the Black Student Union’s showing of the Netflix documentary called 13th. The thought provoking documentary dove into the problematic issues of racial injustices affecting African Americans within the U.S. prison system. I would highly encourage everyone at Fontbonne to view this documentary. While watching this documentary with only about 15 students, I could not help but wish there was a larger turnout at the event. I understand that this event was not publicly promoted with flyers around campus, but news of the event was spread by members of the Black Student Union. After talking to members of BSU, they hosted two film events last year and had some rude students who interrupted the event by talking during the films. This was interesting for me to learn because that Tuesday that BSU hosted the showing of 13th, I tried to spread word of the event to students.

I tried telling everyone I saw on that Tuesday to come to BSU’s event. Unfortunately, upon telling people, I received an enormous amount of white people shifting uncomfortably in their seats and looking down at the ground. They all gave me a very similar answer, “I have homework.” I have come to a conclusion based on my experience being a freshman at Fontbonne. The faculty and staff at Fontbonne may be actively trying to address issues within the realm of diversity, but our student population has a long way to go. During Fontbonne’s expo event where each student organization is presented to the student population, where do students flock to? From my experience, I see students will go to Dance Marathon, Student Government Association, and the Fontbonne Activities Board. Some of these same students will walk quickly past organizations like Fontbonne International Student Association, Black Student Union, and the Latino Hispanic Union. This observation leads me to question if student organizations put diversity as a priority even if they are not a cultural organization.

If you are involved in any student organizations at Fontbonne, I ask you to ponder over these next questions honestly. Look around at the people in your student organizations, how many people of color are there, and are there any international students? Are the presidents and executive board members of these organizations actively supporting cultural events on campus like the International Bazaar and Diversi-TEA?

If you are a white student reading this, please try to realize that I, being a student of color, have a different college experience than you. I am not attempting to start a fight with anyone, I want to bring this “hush hush,” issue quietly discussed by students of color to light. I want future students of color to feel like they have a bigger platform to discuss issues they are facing at Fontbonne. If you are a student of color who relates to my experience, please reach out to me. We need to have more of these conversations, as uncomfortable as some students might become. I want to hear people’s thoughts about this issue. Do you think of it as an issue? If so, how can we as one campus solve this injustice?

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”-Desmond Tutu

Take care,

Mari

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Hello!

Feburary 1st, 2017…World Hijab Day. This was my first time wearing a hijab and it definitely opened my perspective on my Muslims brothers and sisters at Fontbonne and around the world. I have always attended Catholic schools so I wanted to expand my horizons and knowledge of other religions in my higher education experience. I feel that I knew growing up that Islam is a very peaceful and understanding religion. I just do not know a lot about the religion so this was a small step to reach better understanding.

I put on a beautiful red hijab at about 11 o’ clock at lunchtime. I think that throughout the course of my busy, schedule-filled day I ended up subconsciously forgetting that I was wearing a hijab on campus. During my quick walk across Fontbonne’s small campus, I did get some stares from people. After continuing my walk, I realized that I could never truly understand a hijabi’s woman’s experience.

As I was about to leave my afternoon class, I was asked a series of questions by a student about my hijab. The student asked me, “why are you wearing a symbol of oppression?” I think I was caught off guard a little bit, but I explained that a woman wears a hijab by her own decision and it is to allow people to appreciate her intellectuals rather than her physical beauty. The student was not very open or receptive to me and they walked away in a huff.

This goes to show that we, as Fontbonne students, faculty, and staff, have much to do to promote inclusivity and diversity on campus. It is very important to ask questions if you want to further your knowledge of someone’s culture. Also, it is equally important to be receptive to hearing someone’s answer. To the student who was not receptive, please seek understanding. We cannot be a true “Fontbonne family,” if not everyone values inclusivity and diversity. Especially in these tension-filled times in our country, we need to ensure that Fontbonne’s campus is a safe place for EVERYONE.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience wearing the hijab for the day. I found that wearing the hijab felt empowering while talking to people. I felt that they were truly listening to me for my thoughts and opinions, not based off my physicality. I have a much deeper respect for hijabi women after my experience with World Hijab Day 2017. I hope that more women at Fontbonne will come together for World Hijab Day 2018. Unfortunately, I saw only few freshman girls in the St. Joe Residence Hall wearing the hijab. While this is a little discouraging, this should call people to greater action than wearing the hijab for a couple hours. Whether this is making a call to your local representatives explaining your stance on the travel ban or starting a new diverse student organization at FBU, we all have a calling. Find your calling and keep moving forward.

world-hijab-day-2017-pic Shelby, me, and Maddie.

Take care,

Mari

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Mari

Count Your Blessings

by Mari on November 15, 2016

in Campus Community

Hi friends,

The day after watching the Presidential Election, I definitely felt some tension in the air as I walked through the residence halls and on the campus. I promise, this won’t be a ranting blog post about controversial politics or whom I voted for. Whether you woke up rejoicing that Donald Trump won, or fearing for the future because Hillary Clinton lost, the world continues regardless of the political climate in the U.S. I resumed my daily routine which included eating oatmeal for breakfast, attending class, and writing papers. Throughout the day, the election seemed to weigh on my mind. I thought about both sides, the amount of time put into both candidates’ campaigns. Both candidates have been campaigning since I was a senior in high school, and now I am a freshman in college. It is truly bewildering to realize how quickly time passes us due to our busy schedules.

I tried my best to change my mindset throughout the day to positive energy. As I was walking around Fontbonne’s beautiful campus, I noticed the colorful leaves on the ground, sparkling in the daylight in this past brisk morning. I had called my dad and we talked on the phone for about fifteen minutes, something that I take for granted sometimes. As I walked in the St. Joe residence hall, someone politely held the door open for me. My friend and I were falling asleep trying to do homework due to staying up all night. We were searching for ANY form of caffeine, so we decided to stop by Sister Linda’s office. My friend and I felt much more at ease after conversing with Sister Linda in her office and having coffee in our hands. I would highly recommend visiting her office for great conversations with Sister Linda! I also received a reassuring text from my good friend Mary Beth, who advised me to continue being passionate for the issues I care most about. I also called my friend Edwin on FaceTime, and we caught up on our college adventures. Even though he attends college in Virginia, we have still managed to stay in touch. The point of me addressing these blessings is that in the end, only we can decide for ourselves how our day will go. I refused to let an election define the outcome of my day. So I would suggest trying to find the small blessings in your life every day.

“Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow. But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.”-Fred McFeely Rogers

Take care,

Mari

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The Greeting Committee, the leading band to watch for

by Mari November 3, 2016

I have recently been repetitively listening to The Greeting Committee, an indie pop band from my hometown Kansas City, MO. I had the privilege of seeing the band perform twice, in 2014 and in 2016. I saw The Greeting Committee perform at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art both times in KC, now becoming a […]

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My Favorite Teacher

by Mari October 19, 2016

One of my fondest memories of high school is having my favorite teacher Mrs. Cascone as my teacher and counselor. I first met Mrs. Cascone during my sophomore year, she was my English teacher. Not only did I improve my English skills that year, I opened myself up to her and her impactful advice as […]

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How to Stay Healthy in College

by Mari October 4, 2016

Hello! I think that staying happy and healthy is essential to college. Even as a freshman, I have already been exposed to the stress that college can bring on a student. From pulling all-nighters to eating in the dining halls, college life can definitely impact your health. Eating healthy With some of the junk food […]

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3 Reasons Why Voting Is Important

by Mari September 21, 2016

Hello! With the general election coming up this fall, I thought I would provide some insight into why voting is important as college students. I am not here to tell you who to vote for, just make sure you vote this fall! Voting is a privilege. Most Americans do not consider that some people can’t […]

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5 Ways to Overcome Homesickness!

by Mari September 13, 2016

Hello! I know for a fact that I can’t be the only student at Fontbonne who gets a little homesick every once in a while. Even though I am only about 4 hours away from home, I still miss my family and friends in Kansas City. I have come up with five ways for you […]

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Introducing Me

by Mari September 6, 2016

Hello! My name is Maria Torres, but I go by my nickname Mari. I am 18 years old and I am a freshman at Fontbonne University. I was born and raised in Kansas City. I am majoring in Communications. I have two younger sisters. My sister Gabi is in middle school and I have another […]

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.