The Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience (MRULE) program has changed Amy Yousif’s life. “It’s helped me realize who I am and who I want to be,” the education junior said.[family]
Yousif is a student leader in MRULE, a program designed to promote positive race relations by increasing knowledge and understanding among students. The idea behind MRULE is that students from all different backgrounds can come together through discussion and friendship to create multiracial unity.
“Our point in MRULE is for people to realize we are one race,” Yousif said. “There is a social construct of race, but we can all learn and work together because we are all human beings.”
Yousif said that people tend to hang out with people they know, and often they are of the same race. So, this is where MRULE comes in. One of the main aspects of the program is a weekly round table discussion held in South Complex, East Complex and the Brody Complex. Here, a variety of taboo topics are discussed from the perspective of students who come from different backgrounds in a non-judgmental setting, advertising senior Jenny Davis said. Issues include things that might not be discussed in classes, such as interracial dating, affirmative action and white privilege.
“The discussions we have are sometimes heated and calm or sometimes heated and passionate,” said Davis, a resident mentor in her first year with MRULE. “But it is always happening with an open mind from all participants to see how people are based on character, not on their skin color or background.”
Another important component of MRULE is the involvement in community service and community activism. One of the group’s goals is to help make the world a better place by being agents of social change. Ideas about change are talked about at the discussion forums, and then the members go out and put their ideas in action.
[race]Recently, the group raked leaves and volunteered for Into the Streets, a student community service organization. Although non-partisan, MRULE has also been involved with encouraging informed voter participation. The group held their own political debates to let students learn more about the issues and the importance of voting.
The final piece of MRULE is community building, and is what Yousif considers most important. This is where the members really come together as a unit. Social activities are vital to member bonding and include pizza parties, a bowling outing or weekend trips to Toronto, Canada, to follow the path of the Underground Railroad. “We build a family,” Yousif said. “It’s an intimate setting where you learn with these people and begin understanding them.”
MRULE began at MSU as part of the 1995 Multi-Racial Unity project developed by Dr. Jeanne Gazel and Dr. Richard Thomas. The purpose of the project was to create a more inclusive and diverse campus through various programs. The residence hall program was the most successful, current MRULE director Gazel said, because it could get students involved for four years, instead of just in one semester of class.
Thus, in 1996 MRULE began. Originally faculty members ran the program, but it has become increasingly student-directed as it has grown larger over the years. Gazel estimates that about 1,000 students have been involved in the program since its conception. Presently, eight student leaders, three of whom are live-in residence hall representatives, play a large role in the administration of MRULE. They run the weekly discussion forums, as well as meeting and planning extensively with Gazel in order to accurately inform their members.
It is important to challenge your beliefs during your formative college years, Gazel said, and MRULE provides the opportunity to do that through interaction with diverse groups about relevant social issues. “If you don’t do that, you sort of miss the greatest benefits of being on a university campus,” Gazel said.
No-preference sophomore Hassan Malouf joined MRULE as a freshman because he wanted to meet people and he believed in the idea of MRULE. Malouf thinks MRULE is essential because it helps people get to know each other and promotes understanding between those who may not have talked to each other under normal circumstances. “It destroys prejudice,” Malouf said, and it also “dispels a lot of ignorance.”
Yousif also believes in the importance of interaction between people. Her favorite part of MRULE is meeting new people and hearing their stories. “I’ve learned so much,” Yousif said. “It’s an inspiration to me to be around people who are making choices in their lives to better the world around them and themselves.”
MRULE is open to students of all ages, races and religions on campus. Round table discussions are held in the Wonders Kiva on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m., C131 Hubbard on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and in Brody’s Multi-Purpose Room C on Mondays at 7 p.m. For more information on MRULE, visit their website at http://www.msu.edu/~mrule.

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