Ruby Ramos-Basaldúa: Building a Community Through MASA

Among the fast-growing community of Hispanic/Latinx students at Florida State's main campus, there seems to be a general consensus that you either know Ruby Ramos-Basaldúa or you know of her. An advocate for Mexican and Mexican-American voices on campus, Ruby is a member of HLSU (Hispanic/Latino Student Union) and the current president of the Mexican-American Student Association, or MASA. She is quick witted and fiercely passionate about issues concerning the Hispanic community and is always willing to discuss them.

Courtesy: Ruby Ramos-Basaldúa

 

Most recently, issues regarding a racist Instagram caption and MASA's response to it garnered much attention last semester (MASAs from other colleges and universities also voiced their support). In an interview, Ruby stated, "Well honestly… last semester was rough with the whole situation. I know some people left the MASA chat because they didn’t think it was deep; they didn’t think that it was racist. But I mean, if 21 other people feel like it's an issue, I feel like I have to speak on it." She also voiced concerns of misrepresentation of the community, not wanting her own thoughts and feelings to come through. "My primary concern was trying to calm everyone else... It's hard sometimes because you have to be the spokesperson for the community who don’t all think the same." 

It's impossible not to notice her dedication towards the MASA organization, and it’s even harder to ignore the tone of endearment she has when talking about it. She calls it "familia," or family. "The idea of being related comes from the sharing of similar experiences, similar backgrounds, similar identities: things that can tie us together. It is an important aspect of our community to be able to call ourselves that."  

When asked about the importance of MASA and of HLSU, the topic of a shared-existence and a sense of home is brought up. "Most of the Hispanic/Latinx students are first generation(s) college students and many are away from home and away from their families. They can find themselves looking for this 'familia' element in their college experience. FSU is a public white institution… and that’s just being realistic. Tallahassee itself does not have a lot of things to accommodate to our culture... If you really do think this is an important part of your image or how you identify, I think its important that you really come together with others that are in the same place as you. Not necessarily the same as you, but we’re all here, you know? First gen, second gen. Simply trying to get an education and if it's the simple things like making a joke or if you need that regañada (a scolding) from me or another person and it feels like home, then let it be."

FSU has a current population of roughly 20% Hispanic/Latinx students and despite the growing numbers, finding where one fits in can be daunting. Which is why Ruby and many other members of MASA keep their doors open to anyone looking for a place when they can find their “familia."