Wednesday, September 18

MEChA “˜Plan’ under fire


Bruin Rrepublicans claim in USAC meeting that founding document promotes discrimination

The weekly meeting of the undergraduate student government
Tuesday night overflowed with supporters of the Chicana/o
organization MEChA, who were there to protest allegations made by
the Bruin Republicans that the organization subscribes to racist
views.

The Bruin Republicans made a presentation to the Undergraduate
Students Association Council addressing concerns they have with
“El Plan de Aztlan,” one of the founding documents of
MEChA in the late 1960s. Some of the document text promotes the
rights of the Chicana/o community while suppressing those of
European descent.

The literal text also calls for the return of the Southwestern
United States to Mexico, though members said they do not follow
this particular ideology. This concept also came under fire during
the 2003 California recall election when Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante
was criticized for his involvement with the group while at Fresno
State University.

The Bruin Republicans are asking MEChA to denounce the founding
document, which they believe promotes violence and is damaging to
the organization’s reputation as a group providing community
service, outreach and student retention.

“I don’t see why an upstanding student group has to
be stuck with a racist ideology,” said Bruin Republican
member Matthew Knee.

MEChA chairwoman Elizabeth Alamillo said the document was made
by founding members to protest racist activity against the
Chicana/o community.

“We will stand by the “˜El Plan de Aztlan’
because it has guided us,” Alamillo said.

MEChA members said they now focus on providing students access
to education. They accused the Bruin Republicans of racism against
students of color.

Doug Ludlow, president of the Bruin Democrats and a former Daily
Bruin Viewpoint columnist, said he understands the Bruin
Republicans’ cause but believes they may come off as
unintentionally racist.

“I doubt they harbor racist views; it’s not what
UCLA stands for,” Ludlow said.

Alamillo said that although “El Plan de Aztlan” is
used as a founding document, it was not created specifically for
MEChA but for any organization calling for the rights of the
Chicana/o community. The MEChA chapter of UCLA has its own
document, called “El Plan de Santa Barbara.”

Cheers and claps in the meeting room resonated out into the
fourth-floor Kerckhoff hallways, where MEChA supporters such as
members of Samahang Pilipino and Queer Alliance stood after
spilling out of the packed room.

Mariam Jukaku of the Muslim Student Association said after the
Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, MEChA provided support to Muslim
students.

Kian Boloori, chairman of the Queer Alliance, said the alliance
stands in strong solidarity with MEChA.

But some supporters made non-germane comments against the Bruin
Republicans. One member of MEChA accused members of the Bruin
Republicans of not helping the community, but rather
“receiving money from their rich parents.”

Several councilmembers said the Bruin Republicans should have
addressed their concerns directly to MEChA rather than curbing the
organization and coming to USAC.

Moritz said they had tried contacting MEChA several times over
the past couple months but never received a response. Alamillo
refuted this assertion.

“The only type of note we received was on the door asking
us to denounce (the document),” Alamillo said. “But
there was nothing to encourage a meeting and no contact
info.”

Along with asking MEChA to denounce their founding document, the
Bruin Republicans are planning to propose a resolution for USAC to
de-sponsor and freeze funding for the group.

Three council signatories are needed to put a resolution on the
agenda. With this year’s council having a majority of
Students First! slate, a slate which has traditionally supported
MEChA, the prospect of passing such a resolution is not likely.

As a part of their campaign, the Bruin Republicans set up a
table on Bruin Walk to promote their cause.

“They take stereotypes and try to use them for their
advantage. … MEChA as a whole tries to help, yet they attack us
for no reason,” said Mike Speltie, a representative of the
Affirmative Action Coalition.

With reports from Jennifer Case, Bruin contributor.

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