The Multicultural Student Union is a Positive Force for Change at Mamaroneck High School


Photo Courtesy of @mamkmsu on Instagram

Members of MSU work to create posters for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Thomas Gelles, Op-Ed Page Editor

The Multicultural Student Union is anticipating another productive year in which it will remain a positive force for change at Mamaroneck High School. Most students know MSU by its role in putting together the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly every January. This event honors the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists who devoted themselves to fighting for civil rights. But as current members of the MSU recognize, the club is one that is an important source of support and inspiration year-round.

Students join MSU both because of what it stands for and how accepting it is. MSU Director Melanie Huang (’23) says, “I initially joined MSU because it seemed like a welcoming and friendly community as well as an interesting and important club, and that is exactly what MSU is. I also joined because I saw that MSU supports many of the ideals I believe in, and also strives to create change that I love to see and be a part of.” Similarly, Miyuki Oblitas (’23), also an MSU Director, explains, “I was happy to have a space where I could let out my feelings about different topics and a place where I could learn about other people’s cultures.” An inextricable part of the club’s mission is to provide a forum in which students can learn from and support one another.

The MSU’s work on the MLK Assembly celebrates the vital contributions of civil rights activists. But, it also inspires our own community to think more about what each of us as individuals can do to address persistent societal problems. Sofia Martinez (’23), another MSU Director, recounts, “I remember seeing the MLK Assembly my freshman year and being blown away by all the beautiful performances and videos that were created to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights he stood for. … I decided that I wanted to sign up and be a part of this club, not only because of the great work that they do for the community and what they stand for, but so that I could encourage myself to reflect on what steps I can take as an individual to begin standing up for what I believe in, which is equal treatment for all, regardless of race or background.” The conversations and reflections that MSU prompts, through the MLK Assembly and through its club meetings, can become the engine that drives positive social change.

A fourth MSU Director, Kailey Ayala (’23) thinks that having a club such as MSU is especially important at MHS. She explains, “One goal for MSU is to bring cultural awareness to the social scene here. The club provides a safe space for all students to learn about each other’s cultures, experiences, and struggles with their ethnicity. We help MSU students to feel a part of something, to meet new friends, and enjoy all the educational resources that MSU has to offer. I think that in a predominantly white school/area like this one, it’s important to have a MSU.” Among the school’s clubs, MSU offers the unique opportunity to promote the kinds of conversations that might not otherwise happen with the same depth or frequency in the community.

MSU intends to continue its growth as an essential part of the MHS community. Oblitas says, “My goals for MSU are for us to continue spreading our message of inclusivity and for us to reach the entire district with our mission!” The club tries to remind everyone that they can make a difference. Martinez explains, “As students, it’s easy to think that what we do doesn’t have much of an effect on the world around us. In reality, coming together like we do in MSU and actively sharing what we believe in encourages others to listen and little by little we can shape our environment to be more positive. By expanding and bringing more opinions and views to light, we can figure out what MHS and the community really need and continue to grow from there.”

Students who are not yet MSU members should consider joining it, says Huang. She points out, “I want everyone at MHS to know that MSU is a club anyone can join, even if you aren’t looking to become a director (although we are looking for some!). MSU can be a friendly space for you to come to, a place to learn, a club in which you can blossom as a member and/or leader, a place for you to make friends, or all of the above!” Martinez adds, “Although some topics can be heavy, we have lighthearted moments and we invite you to share them with us!” Ayala sums up the club’s ethos, saying, “We try our best and care so much that this club makes a difference, and if you’d like to be a part of making that difference, then don’t be afraid to join! We’d love to have you.” As club activities begin to get underway, students who join the MSU can look forward to a meaningful experience in which they challenge themselves, make friends, and truly be the change that we must see in the world.