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Fusion: The Rutgers Union of Mixed People provides community, raises awareness for multiracial students

The student organization Fusion: The Rutgers Union of Mixed People, founded in 2005, offers a place for multiracial and multiethnic Rutgers students to share their experiences. – Photo by Rutgers.edu

Fusion: The Rutgers Union of Mixed People is a multicultural organization that focuses on issues regarding the multiracial and multiethnic community at the University and beyond.

Benjamin Rocco, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and president of the organization, said the club centers on the experience of mixed-race students and aims to increase awareness, support individuals in developing their identities and help them become more accepted in society.

“For many mixed people, there has been a feeling of incompleteness, that they don’t feel like they truly belong,” he said. “We aim to be that place where they belong, to fill in that gap.”

Rocco said that Fusion was founded in 2005 when Diana Sanchez, a professor in the Department of Psychology, began researching biracial and multiracial identity. One of her students, Phillip Handy, proceeded to initiate the club in an effort to help multiracial students join Rutgers’ discussion on race.

The organization's overall goal is to build a community of people who identify as multiracial or multiethnic, or who are interested in being part of the multiracial experience in any capacity, Rocco said. 

“Fusion will serve as a support system and a forum for people to express their thoughts, ideas and concerns about issues that are relevant to the multiracial community,” he said. “We wish to examine common myths and misconceptions about multiracial identity and interracial relationships, challenge exclusive and essentialist ideas about race and analyze their origins and work towards dispelling them through group discussions.”

The organization is open to the Rutgers community as well as friends and family of students and faculty, with general meetings typically focused on raising awareness about mixed issues that people have experienced in order to educate others, Rocco said.

He said that as the club begins in-person meetings this semester, they hope to raise even more awareness for mixed issues and to host a cultural food day, among other events. Additionally, he said that he wants people to know that Fusion is open to all identities and focuses on important topics while having fun. 

“It doesn’t matter what you identify as, we are here to take anyone with open arms,” Rocco said. “We just want people to be more aware of what it is like to be mixed because chances are you know someone who is if you are not mixed yourself.”

Sydney Harden, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and secretary of Fusion, said that being in the organization has provided her with a group of people she can relate to.

“For me it is interesting and nice to have people that can relate to being a mixed person,” she said. “I have never had a group like this to share stories and experiences about being mixed.”

Aishah Muhammad, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and Fusion member, said the organization makes her feel seen as she said being mixed comes with certain issues that are not discussed enough. 

For Katia Wagner, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and Fusion’s executive board director, the organization has helped her to realize that she is not alone after feeling lost while growing up.

“Fusion helped (repair) my identity crisis and realized I was not alone with these feelings of confusion and doubt,” she said. “Fusion also helped me regain love for my cultures.”

Rocco said that for him, being in Fusion has been like being a part of a family. 

“Everyone here has the best interest at heart for one another,” he said. “I have developed leadership skills and learned so much about everyone’s experience because each person is different and unique.”


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