New student diversity group rallies to ‘Open Up, Marquette’

A new student organization invited the student body to join its movement Thursday by hosting a rally to “open up Marquette” for its new diversity initiatives.

Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), a Marquette chapter of the citywide advocacy group Voces de la Frontera, held a student-led rally on Central Mall to introduce its Open Up, Marquette! initiative. The organization was created last semester to advocate for immigrant students and students from diverse backgrounds.

The organization gathered YES members as well as other students to speak about bringing more diversity to Marquette and reaching out to the Milwaukee community.

A group of about 30 students held signs and chanted “Open Up, Marquette!” as some students spoke about other diversity initiatives the group plans to take on, including the recruitment of more multicultural faculty and the formation of a new multicultural center, in addition to the one already located in the Alumni Memorial Union.

Maricela Aguilar, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and a student organizer for YES, said the organization hopes to empower students at Marquette to make a positive difference with regards to diversity on campus. Aguilar added that YES is focusing on four main initiatives.

“The first initiative that we want to focus on is bringing more support to ethnic studies programs and things like that,” Aguilar said. “We also want more multicultural faculty, more support for our students of diverse backgrounds and the possibility of a new multicultural center.”

Aguilar said she hoped a new space created specifically for multicultural and social justice projects would give students and the Milwaukee community a place to come together.

“A new center could act like a hub for all the work that could be done in the community,” Aguilar said. “There are a lot more discussions and meetings that need to happen, and we wanted to get more students involved.”

YES plans on getting its projects underway next week after a general meeting takes place Wednesday.

“We’re hoping that a lot of people that are here at the rally will show up,” Aguilar said. “Then students can brainstorm and set up meetings with the appropriate administrators, and we can get these ideas underway.”

Francisca Meraz, member of YES and a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the organization plans on having many more events to allow their voices to be heard.

“We’re calling on the broader Marquette community to make these initiatives a reality,” she said.

Other organizations have noticed YES’s message and want to help make diversity a priority at Marquette. Andy Suchorski, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and chair of Marquette’s College Democrats, said his organization hopes to play a role.

“The College Democrats want to be a part of promoting these progressive ideas and issues,” Suchorski said. “If you care about social justice issues, you need to be actively engaged in the community, but you also need to vote for progressive Democrats who will make social justice issues a top priority.”

Suchorski added that Marquette’s College Democrats share YES’s message of reaching out to the diverse Milwaukee community.

“Marquette University should play a greater role in celebrating diversity and promoting social justice in the Milwaukee community,” Suchorski said. “There are so many people within only a few blocks of Marquette that are struggling to feed their families and find good paying jobs. These are not only social justice issues, but these are progressive issues as well.”