Fight Ignorance with Contructive Activism

One of the advantages of having a student-run newspaper is the opportunity for students to contribute to it.
An article last week in the New University entitled ‘MEChA Attends ASUCI Meeting in Protest of Cinco de Mayo Celebration’ reported that students from the Chicano activist group were offended by an ASUCI-sponsored Cinco de Mayo event that they felt perpetuated negative stereotypes against Mexicans.
The previous week, the New University had run an advertisement that the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan felt portrayed Mexican culture in a similarly unflattering light.
In response, representatives from the group attended the New University’s weekly meeting to voice their grievances.
While the New University’s advertising policy does state that we reserve the right to refuse advertisements ‘which contain obscene, racist, sexist, or other innapropriate content,’ it does not state that we are under any obligation to block publication of all potentially offensive advertisements.
It is lamentable that ethnic stereotypes exist in our community, but it is not the job of the New University to take a proactive role in fighting prejudices.
We are, in many ways, a reflection of our society.
This advertisement is not the only example of questionable advertisements in our paper or in our geater community.
Advertisers regularly employ shock tactics to draw attention, which sometimes draws outrage, as with the case of the Cinco de Mayo advertisment, or the recent controversy surrounding KCRA’s ‘Los Angeles, Mexico’ billboard.
Even though our advertising policy does technically allow us the ability to block offensive content, our economic situation does not allow us to censor all advertisements that have the potential to offend some portion of our readers.
Needless to say, the New University’s advertising content, like the content in any other section, should not be considered a representation of the opinions of our staff.
Additionally, while we sympathize with their concerns, the group’s leaders could have taken a more active approach.
If MEChA’s concern is that the advertisement sent the wrong message about Cinco de Mayo, then we encourage them to take an active role in educating students about the true meaning of the holiday.
Students must not underestimate their power in making a difference and combating existing stereotypes.
Many other clubs and organizations have approached us this year with similar concerns about content printed in the paper.
Our response has always been that we provide an open forum for student discussion and we extend the same opportunities to them that we do to anyone else.
If this means that we offend some people, so be it. It is more important to encourage a free exchange of ideas than to please everyone all the time.
Although we continue to welcome criticism, we strongly encourage students to contribute articles that educate the public.

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