Sunday, April 21

Students unite for MEChA rally


Hundreds gather to support group, discuss equality issues

Correction Appended

Hundreds of students congregated, their many voices forming one
in their chant, “We’re fired up, can’t take it no
more.”

Chicana/o student group MEChA held a rally in front of Kerckhoff
Hall on Wednesday afternoon in the hopes of teaching UCLA students
about the purpose of MEChA, as well as uniting many student groups
with the common cause of equality.

MEChA’s views were called into question last quarter when
Bruin Republicans launched a campaign against what it called
“racist” founding documents of MEChA. Members of MEChA
say they no longer subscribe to the radical provisions of the
documents and are now primarily a mentoring and outreach group.

The rally, titled “In Solidarity With MEChA,”
featured speakers from many student groups, including Queer
Alliance, the Muslim Student Association, the Feminist Majority
Leadership Alliance and the African Student Union, who all came to
show their support for MEChA.

Other speakers included a Chicano poet who addressed the crowd
about racism and several students who support MEChA.

“If many groups come together, they are more likely to get
their voices heard,” said Christina Chala, a fourth-year
women’s studies student who attended the rally to support
MEChA.

After speakers concluded, students marched to Schoenberg Quad,
chanting and clapping, where the rally and march ended.

Yousef Tajsar, MSA external vice president and a member of the
Associated Students of UCLA Board of Directors, spoke at the rally
and called for students to inform others of what he believes is the
true nature of MEChA.

“After Sept. 11 (2001), one of the first organizations to
show support for MSA was MEChA, and in turn, we support them in
their cause,” Tajsar said.

“Students need to be more aware of the lies being spread
all around them; they need to come together in solidarity and
understanding, instead of negative things; and they need to fight
for things important to students,” Tajsar added.

Members of Bruin Republicans do not believe the assertions they
have made about MEChA are unfair and say they would have liked to
have been invited to the rally to have the chance to respond.

“MEChA refused to do anything with us. … It’s a
little hypocritical when they don’t invite us to their
rally,” said Bruin Republicans member Chris Moritz, referring
to MEChA’s absence at a debate Bruin Republicans had publicly
called on MEChA to attend.

Moritz said his group will be “playing it by ear” as
to what the next step of the campaign will be.

Speakers at the rally also informed students that many groups
are coming together to form a committee called the Solidarity
Committee, which aims to bring groups on campus together with one
cause.

“This rally brings up cultural awareness and the fact that
an attack on MEChA is an attack on all other student groups
fighting for equality,” said Catherine Sylvester, ASUCLA vice
chairwoman.

“This rally shows students that every group of people have
a common struggle of equality and misrepresentation,” said
Jose Aguilar, a UCLA alumnus and a tutor for the Academic
Advancement Program.

MEChA member Mike Speltie spoke on the issue of diversity at
UCLA, and how students need to embrace their differences.

“There is so little diversity here, and it is always being
attacked ““ people need to get used to the fact that
minorities are here to stay,” Speltie said.

Both organizers and speakers of the rally believe students who
attended will continue to spread the word about MEChA, and the
positive things the organization does for the UCLA community.

“It shouldn’t have just been students of color at
this rally. Every student needs to recognize the great work that
MEChA does, and support their cause,” said first-year
linguistics student Julio Rodriguez.

Correction: April 9, 2004, Friday

Catherine Sylvester was misidentified. She is vice chairwoman of
the African Student Union.

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