The invisible identity series, an initiative on campus orchestrated by the office of multicultural affairs, allows students from marginalized and unconventional backgrounds the chance to participate in conversation about their experiences in a safe space. Initially started over seven years ago, the invisible identity series strives to create a place where silenced voices are heard, and backgrounds are brought to the forefront. With faculty and staff organizing these events, each session offers students the chance to speak on issues they may otherwise not be given the chance to talk about.
“Having the invisible identity series provides a ‘safe’ space to discuss personal and oftentimes sensitive topics,” said Francine Coston, associate director of the office of multicultural affairs. “Hidden identities much like visible identities can be bring about challenges.”
Ranging from past topics like student-veterans to survivors of domestic violence, the invisible identity series strives to create an open safe confidential space where students from similar and different backgrounds can come and discuss their similar lived experience with other people who understand them. Invented as a way to focus on hidden identities within the UMass Lowell student population, the invisible identity series brings forth an opportunity for students to discuss their challenges and their worries without the fear of their grievances being rejected or ignored.
“Not only is it a way to gain insight on the diverse identities on campus, it also helps to connect students with support, services, and resources needed,” said Coston.
With an emphasis on protecting their students’ stories and a mission of providing a safe haven for those stories to be heard, the invisible identity series showcases support where support is often lacking. With a mission that focuses on empowerment, the invisible identity series is an amazing opportunity for students to partake in an event that is about stressing the importance of a student’s experience and recognizing aspects of their lives that are brushed aside or forgotten. With faculty and staff there to help, students are given chances to feel comfortable with a shared common ground or common experience.
“We often talk or interact more easily with facets of self that appear to be recognizable, familiar or visible to us; even though that can often lead to assumptions and misperceptions,” said Leslie Wong, assistant dean of Student Affairs for Equity and Inclusion in the office of multicultural affairs. “However, everyone holds many identities and having a space to dialogue on intersectionality in addition to raising awareness on what may be ‘hidden’ or not easily identifiable is important, especially as we aim to dismantle social stigmas and misnomers.”
The invisible identity series offers an open space that works to raise awareness on issues that could be perceived as taboo or not seen at all, as well as acknowledging multiple aspects of student’s identity on campus. Whether you identify with a singular or a multitude of issues presented during the event, the opportunity to have your experience considered and heard is one that is prevalent throughout the mission of the series.
This past week’s installment of the series focused on non-traditional and transfer students, giving those who identify with that the chance to speak and express themselves in a positive, receptive safe manner. The next parts of the invisible identity series, titled “Native Americans: We’re Still Here” on Nov. 6 and “Gender Violence: Power and Control” on Dec. 4, will take part in room 255 in UCrossing from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.