A new student organization at UCSB hopes to create a safe space and open forum for multicultural, mixed-race and mixed-ethnicity students.

The Mixed Student Union registered as an official group with the Office of Student Life roughly two weeks ago, after the founding members returned from the Students of Color Conference 2010, held at UC San Diego. According to its members, the MSU is a club dedicated to opening dialogue amongst mixed-heritage UCSB students about their personal experiences in relation to their varied ancestry.

Hazel Putney, a third-year sociology and feminist studies major, said UCSB’s delegation at the conference noticed that UC San Diego had established an MSU chapter last year, modeling it after UC Berkeley’s chapter, which was created in 1992.

“Several of us felt inspired to create a mixed-race group like the other campuses, and started to organize meetings for those interested,” Putney said.

The MSU is hosting a ceremonial mixer tonight to publicize their newly formed group to the local community. The event will feature a potluck and a screening of a documentary about mixed-race identity at 7 p.m. in the Student Resource Building Multipurpose Room.

Kevin Adono, a second-year Italian studies major, said since the club is fairly new, the purpose of the event is to gauge the interests of its members and introduce future members to the club’s important topics.

“[We will talk about] what it means to be mixed, interracial dating, among other subjects,” Adono said. “We will also have some time open for students to discuss anything they have on their minds or wish to share.”

Nicole Perez, a second-year sociology and Chican@ studies major, said MSU will be the first group on campus created to focus on multiple aspects of individual identities, rather than just one at a time.

“MSU will allow students to express any and all parts of themselves without having the pressures to fit into one category,” Perez said. “We need a group like this to begin the dialogue and explore the issues concerning multiracial identities because there are many students out there that have confirmed the need to create a space to allow for all parts of their racial identity to be expressed.”

The MSU holds meetings every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the SRB. The organization also has a Facebook group for students who want to get involved, titled “Mixed Student Union at UCSB.”