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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

A lesson in sustainability: community activist shares her advice on building a movement

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2020 has proven the resiliency of Loyola students in more ways than one. Despite transitioning to a fully-online academic platform, and being robbed of experiences with friends and within the community for an indefinite amount of time, students have still shown up to demand accountability from their University this summer, from making calls for racial equity to shining light on the need for updated Title IX protocol. 

Even without a campus to call home, students made themselves heard on social media, in letters to the administration, and via online petitions. Many of the movements, too, are intended to stay relevant in the coming semester. 

While relevancy and sustainability may arguably be one of the more challenging parts of engagement, there are student-run organizations at Loyola that have mastered the art. Take Loyola Rising— launched in 2015 after the murder of Freddie Gray, the initiative calls students to stand in solidarity against police brutality and addresses complacency with racism on campus, in Baltimore, and in the world at large.

Since its foundation, Loyola Rising has dedicated itself to engaging with the school’s administration and with partners in the Baltimore community. In 2019, Loyola Rising supported Students Against Private Police (SAPP) at Johns Hopkins University, a coalition at their university against legislation drafted in 2018 that called for Johns Hopkins to create a private police force. 

Through collaboration within the Loyola community and between other institutions based in Baltimore, Loyola Rising has dedicated over five years to addressing violence against Black lives. Rising senior Frida Barrera Enciso, a member of Loyola Rising’s core leadership team, has witnessed the organization’s impact at Loyola since her earliest days at the University. 

Born in Mexico and a resident of Connecticut, Barrera Enciso is more than involved on Loyola’s campus. In addition to majoring in art history and minoring in international business, she’s involved with the Association of Latin American and Spanish students (ALAS) and Mosaic, a support initiative for womxn of color at Loyola. She’s also an intern at the Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ), along with the two other core leaders of Loyola Rising. 

Her connection to CCSJ, whose main priority is connecting with community partners and creating a positive impact that Loyola students can be involved in, has supported her work in Loyola Rising, allowing her to leverage already-existing relationships to discuss racist policies in the city. Barrera Enciso also brings these conversations to administrators and faculty members on campus. 

“Really, anyone can lay hands,” she said, explaining why Loyola Rising has such an extensive reach.  

According to Barrera Enciso, there’s no replicable incentive or reason for joining Loyola Rising. Each member comes with their own intentions, goals, and passions. For her, much of the experience has to do with introspection. 

“I think that introspection is something that I try to bring out in our message to look within and to really educate yourself before expanding to other types of activism,” she said. “Really know what you believe in and stand behind that 100%.”

Through introspection and other values, like bringing awareness to on-campus and Baltimore-based issues, Barrera Enciso and the Loyola Rising leadership team hope to share information about Loyola’s standing in Baltimore so all students can obtain a better understanding of their identities at a predominantly white institution in a predominantly Black city. 

“You have to be more aware of your position to have the privilege to go to a Jesuit university that is also private. That’s a privilege in itself. That’s a privilege that I have, and that’s a privilege that all the students have at Loyola,” Barrera Enciso said. “But, it doesn’t just end there. You know, the student body in general needs to learn to accept that their education is ever-evolving. It doesn’t end with a march. It doesn’t end with a post.”

When asked about three qualities that can fuel sustainability, Barrera Enciso highlighted consistency, persistence, and dedication. 

“I feel like I’m talking about a sport. But, honestly I feel like this is how other people could relate to it,” she said, further explaining the three qualities she listed. “Loyola Rising was created back in 2015, directly after the passing of Freddie Gray. And we are still demanding for that change. So we are an example of a group on campus that has been a successful force of action. And, I think Loyola Rising embodies consistency and sustainability. But, we do also take a long time to decide how we want to relay our messages so that they are impactful and they are heard. So I think, thinking through before you act is also very important for sustainability. It’s intent and impact.” 

Another unique aspect of Barrera Enciso’s approach to advocacy work is the breadth of news she consumes regularly. She aims to better understand other perspectives and build a better foundation for conversation. Through critical thought, Barrera Enciso builds confidence in the validity of her own views while working to understand where those she disagrees with may be coming from. 

She said, “I listen to a spectrum of opinions, and then I think about it in my head. I discuss it, but the biggest thing is, I ask myself, ‘Why do I think this? Why am I taking this stance? And I think that that’s where a lot of activism starts— by asking yourself, ‘why?’”

While sustainability continues to be a challenge within many of Loyola’s well-meaning initiatives, Barrera Enciso is interested to see how the virtual setting affects students’ ability to make significant change. While remote organizing is often framed as being more difficult to pull together, Barrera Enciso offered a positive spin on a situation that’s widely viewed as challenging and restrictive.

“In one way, going virtual is going to help a lot of students who feel nervous to stand up. You know, you’re always going to be nervous, but it’s going to give them a little bit of courage. It’s kind of that double… having the safety of a screen, but also still being scared because people know who you are,” she said. 

While Loyola faces a semester filled with complex challenges and roadblocks, Barrera Enciso doesn’t undermine the potential for greatness in this remote setting. Through consistency, persistence, and dedication, she believes the community can find sustainability. 

Barrera Enciso and the Loyola Rising team will be providing updates on the organization’s remote goals as the semester progresses. Be sure to follow their Instagram for upcoming events, and stay in touch with The Greyhound for more profiles of students making big changes.

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A lesson in sustainability: community activist shares her advice on building a movement