Mark Fabionar - "Cultivating a Community"

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Coming from a family of educators, Mark Fabionar finds the subject of cultural diversity to be "an interesting and compelling way to serve communities and serve universities," he says.

Fabionar joined the Sonoma State University faculty in March as the new director of the Multicultural Center (MCC) and brings with him a wealth of experience working with students, faculty and staff in higher education.

His expertise is unique because he has done both student development work and has been a university instructor for many years. Currently, he is working to make his vision for SSU a reality, firstly by changing the name of the (MCC) to The HUB in September. "My first mission is to really cultivate a community here, a community of diverse clubs, diverse participants," Fabionar says.

Originally from Sacramento, Fabionar's interest in diversity led him to do his undergraduate and graduate work in American Studies focusing on cultural pluralism and theories of cultural change. Fabionar has worked as an instructor and taught at CSU Sacramento, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Sacramento City College, and CSU Fullerton and he currently teaches at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco.

Fabionar was previously the director for the Center for Multicultural Programs and Services at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he led the development and delivery of campus and community programs to students.

He wants The HUB to serve as a place where leaders from these cultural-based organizations can work together to form communities and to support each other, but also "to cultivate a leadership that is beyond just their individual communities and organizations," Fabionar says.

The idea of bringing leaders from culture-based clubs and organizations started in the summer, forming what is now called The Transculture Leadership Collective consisting of student leaders from Black Scholars United, Latino Students United, Sonoma Alliance for Gender Equality (SAGE) and many other student organizations.

Ideally, Fabiobar would like all SSU students utilize the programs offered. "I think in terms of the broader campus," he said, "folks who aren't necessarily invested or interested in these kinds of diversity issues… to provide opportunities or platforms for them to kind of get involved and learn more in ways that are interesting or compelling."

When The HUB came into existence in September, Fabionar said that about 150 people came through during the launch, which was "a pretty decent turn-out for something that is kind of new." Since then, The HUB has offered a variety of programming for all students. "It's a name change, but also a concept change," he says.

The Spoke Poetry Program has seen great attendance. The HUB invites feature performers, well-established poets, to recite their work. "But it is also really meant to cultivate student voices because there is an open mic, so we had a number of students here," Fabionar says.

The student poetry was diverse and "was around issues concerning the human condition in terms of love, in terms of loss, but we also had things on body image, sexual politics, racial politics," Fabionar said. The poetry program is a way to get students to listen to diverse perspectives, and share perspectives of their own.

The HUB also offers a "Just Vitality" program, which is a "body-mind-spirit cross-training program that we have. That is done to exercise some of our core practices," Fabionar said. "It can be something as simple as an awareness practice, awareness of oneself, awareness of others, awareness of the environment around us" and a Wisdom Tradition Series that exposes students to different spiritual and religious ideas and practices.

Fabionar will be continuing to work to make his vision a reality, "the intent of what we are doing at The HUB is not to just put on events, it is really to cultivate community and to become a commutative practice," he says.