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Commentary: Fostering community among students of color is necessary

Senior+Nathalie+Molina+writes+about+her+experience+in+Sister+2+Sister+and+emphasizes+the+importance+of+creating+spaces+for+students+of+color+on+campus.
Aminatta Imrana Jallow
Senior Nathalie Molina writes about her experience in Sister 2 Sister and emphasizes the importance of creating spaces for students of color on campus.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest commentary. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

​​Growing up right next to Washington, D.C., I was integrated into diverse classrooms and communities through my extracurriculars and homelife. I wanted to continue being involved with extracurriculars when I began college, and I am forever grateful for that decision. Immediately after entering Ithaca College’s campus, I was met with culture shock and imposter syndrome.

In search of community, I was welcomed into the students of color community with open arms where I was able to develop a sense of belonging. During this time, I had also been hired as a social media content strategist for the college as head photographer for both student organizations and college-affiliated events. Photographing these events opened my eyes to the lack of representation of students of color at organizational fairs and presence in college media. 

I have since made efforts through photography to represent all communities and identities on this campus. I did so by ensuring that all organizations on campus and our events were supported to best promote student engagement by posting event photos and dates. As a student, you notice the attendance at events based on what type of event is being hosted and who is hosting it. Especially if you are a student of color, some events may not cater to your interests and/or needs. That is why it is especially important for the existence of BIPOC organizations on campus.

Since my sophomore year, I have been a member of IC Sister 2 Sister, the women of color student organization. By finding community with them, I realized how impactful it is for others to find the same sense of belonging that I had found, and I wanted to support my community in any way possible. The Poder x S2S banquet in 2022 was a milestone for the BIPOC community with an attendance of 200 students and faculty. In 2023, Sister 2 Sister held the very first annual Lotus Banquet, an end of year celebration to celebrate BIPOC excellence. 

The event was supported by multiple students and faculty and was paired with speeches, performances, dinner and a celebration. As president of Sister 2 Sister, I was motivated to ensure this event became an annual celebration with sponsorship from our president’s office, ALS Alumni and the BIPOC Unity Center. This event showcased that it truly does take a village to make such an important event transition from a vision to reality. 

Aimed to support and educate the women of color community on campus, IC Sister 2 Sister has held numerous events surrounding the embracement of excellence in the BIPOC community and has collaborated with other offices and student organizations like the BIPOC Unity Center, the Center for Career Exploration and Development, African Student Association, Muslim Student Association, IC Poder and Brothers 4 Brothers. We have also been fortunate to build relationships with BIPOC sorority and fraternity chapters that are Cornell University and Ithaca College affiliated.

Since becoming president, I have learned how essential it is to encourage our communities to support each other, and by hosting this past banquet, I hoped to unite everyone on the campus through this end of year celebration. Sister 2 Sister has become a crucial part of my campus life at the college, as I have recognized the potential the organization has and the impact it can have on the community when supported by student engagement. Extracurriculars, as I am sure we have come to learn, are crucial to a student’s development as they advance into their post college career, ultimately giving them a taste of the real world and its functions. 

It is particularly important for these organizations to be able to support marginalized groups on a campus, especially at a predominantly white institution, where the BIPOC community may not be on the forefront of priorities at the college. Minority communities deserve the same time and attention that is spent for the majority, and that is why the BIPOC student organizations exist at the college. Sister 2 Sister has become a home away from home for me and my legacy that I have left here on campus. I can only hope that I can share the same feeling with everyone else as you discover your right fit in our wide array of organizations on campus.

Signing out, your 202324 S2S president, Nathalie Molina.

Nathalie Molina (she/her) is a senior communication management and design major. Contact her at [email protected].

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Aminatta Imrana Jallow, Photographer
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