Bruin Republicans Campaign against MEChA’s Views
Menaka Fernando, Daily Bruin (UCLA newspaper), Feb. 3
The Bruin Republicans are launching a campaign today in an effort to get a Chicana/o student group on campus to denounce what they consider to be radical and racist views.
The campaign, their first of the year, begins close to five months after the issue was highlighted during the days leading up to the gubernatorial recall election in October 2003.
“We’re not just openly going after MEChA, we want them to look at their past (actions) and refute them if they believe they are wrong,” said Bruin Republican member Christopher Moritz.
The group plans to campaign throughout the week to inform the student body about what they believe are MEChA’s extreme views. They are also scheduled to make a presentation to the Undergraduate Students Association Council at the general meeting tonight.
Upon hearing about their presentation, USAC Internal Vice President Allende Palma/Saracho said he invited members of MEChA to attend the meeting as well.
“The fact that MEChA doesn’t know about (the campaign) is problematic,” said Palma/Saracho, who is also a member of MEChA. “It shows the immaturity of the Bruin Republicans.”
Moritz said his organization sent a letter to MEChA earlier in the year explaining their grievances but that no response was received.
The group later plans to propose a resolution to the council to de-recognize MEChA as a USAC-sponsored organization and to freeze funds it receives from USAC, Moritz said. To bring a resolution to the table, the group needs three signatories from the council.
With the majority of the council belonging to the Students First! slate - a slate that MEChA is traditionally affiliated with - it is unlikely that a resolution of this sort could get passed.
“I don’t think it’s possible to pass at USAC this year,” said General Representative Josh Lawson. He added that he believes this is an opportunity for MEChA to explain some of their past beliefs.
The principles that the Chicana/o organization MEChA stood for came into question when opponents of gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante criticized him for his involvement with the group in the 1970s. One of the founding documents of MEChA advocated exclusively for the rights of the Chicana/o community while opposing the rights of people of European descent.
At the time, several chapters of MEChA, including the one at UCLA, said they no longer subscribe to the views of their predecessors. The group’s functions have also evolved, focusing largely on community outreach and student retention.
When questioned about their beliefs in September 2003, leaders of MEChA de UCLA have said the goal and structure of the organization has changed since its founding in the late 1960s. Leaders have said the group now works for greater access to higher education for at-risk youth.
Still, members of the Bruin Republicans believe it is important that MEChA publicly refutes its past, including its call for the liberation of Aztlán - parts of the southwestern United States, including California.
He added that his group had planned on launching the campaign after the recall election, but unforeseen and unspecified “logistical issues” delayed the campaign until now. This is the group’s biggest campaign of the year, and Moritz said that, though their funds are limited, they are doing everything possible to ensure the campaign is a success.
The opposition of MEChA is a sentiment shared by all members of the Bruin Republicans, Moritz said.
The group has prioritized the MEChA effort over its traditional political campaigns. He also said the group has not yet discussed starting a campaign for the Democrat primary elections or the presidential elections.
Moritz said he does not contend that several services MEChA provides are commendable, but also said it doesn’t negate what he considers to be questionable elements of the group.