While they might prefer different shades of blue, a group of students from Carolina and Duke are putting their differences aside to create The Bridge, a digital publication that aims to provide an uplifting online space for women and non-binary people of color.
The organization was established in 2016 by three students — two from Duke and one from Carolina — who shared a common goal of launching a platform for women of color to create content and express themselves without fear of judgment.
The organization has since grown to more than 70 members across the two campuses.
“We have created an organization that highlights voices from marginalized communities that don’t subscribe to the traditional, patriarchal and Eurocentric narratives of self-expression, storytelling and lived experiences,” said Sofia Martinez Querecuto, a junior who serves as the editor-in-chief for The Bridge at Carolina. “We’re an organization that gives these individuals a platform through which to publish their art, their work, and to build cross-campus collaborations.”
The Bridge accepts content submissions from women and non-binary students of color at both universities, filling a gap in traditional media content. The types of content that contributors can create are endless, ranging from poetry and photography to thought pieces and videos.
“There’s a lack within the media industry of giving women and non-binary people of color the opportunity to really share their perspectives without being censored, or without being pigeon-holed or criticized for the type of content that they want to put out there,” Martinez Querecuto said. “It’s really important for us to give the people that belong to our communities a space to make their own, without judgment.”
While there are separate staffs for The Bridge at each university, members partner throughout the year for events and to steer the overall direction of the organization. Executive board members from both universities also collaborate at a retreat each semester to learn from each other’s successes and plan content.
“Collaborating with between branches of The Bridge is always nice to do because we share a common goal and are like-minded,” said Debora Cordero Martinez, a Duke junior who serves as the editor-in-chief for The Bridge at Duke.
A major collaboration between the two schools came this year in the form of a website redesign to make the platform more accessible. Maureen Osei, a Carolina junior who serves as the web editor, oversaw the transition to the new website, working with both Carolina and Duke students to bring their ideas to life.
“We wanted to redesign the website to give it a little bit more usability. There were a lot of issues with the old site that we felt like we could change,” Osei said. “It was a pretty positive experience because we were able to get insight from both schools.”
The Bridge also fosters a strong sense of community among its members by providing various personal and professional development opportunities throughout the year.
“I love the work that we do. I’m extremely passionate about the community that we strive to build and that we have built already,” Martinez Querecuto said. “We foster confidence so that when our members leave Carolina, they can step into any room and be confident in who they are and know that there is a place for them in any space that they want to be in.”
And regardless of how the universities’ teams fare on the court, The Bridge’s cross-campus collaborations are sure to transcend the rivalry.
“There’s no Carolina-Duke rivalry between us,” Osei said. “It ends at sports.”