In the past few weeks UC Irvine’s Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan has been in the UC Irvine spotlight quite often. Prior to Cinco de Mayo, there was an altercation between MEChA and the Associated Students of UCI about the appropriateness of ASUCI’s Cinco de Mayo celebration. That same week, MEChA was again upset with an advertisement for Sharkeez that the New University had printed.
The first problem arose when MEChA wished to reserve the flagpole area for its Cinco de Mayo event, but ASUCI had already reserved the area for its own event. When ASUCI refused to relinquish the area, MEChA chose to take action. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this situation is that MEChA automatically assumes that because its club is more or less based around the Mexican culture, it has some kind of inherent superiority over any other group that wishes to celebrate the holiday.
Instead of approaching the ASUCI executives in a rational manner, MEChA simply demanded the cancellation of the ASUCI event in place of MEChA’s event. Furthermore, some students involved in MEChA went on to deem the ASUCI event ‘insensitive’ and ‘ignorant’ to the true significance of the holiday. All this because ASUCI was planning food and dancing whereas MEChA’s event included a speech by anthropology professor Michael Montoya called ‘Nature of Politics and Present Day.’
First, judging from the title of professor Montoya’s speech, I would not assume that it directly correlates to Cinco de Mayo, but I could be wrong. Second, just because this event wasn’t planned by a Mexican group and also chose to focus on the celebratory aspect of the holiday, doesn’t mean that it was ignorant of the importance of it. News flash, MEChA: This is college and we party for any reason we can think of on any particular day.
Why was MEChA not willing to simply proceed with having two events in celebration of Cinco de Mayo? I would venture to guess that it was afraid that the ASUCI event, which was more free spirited and laid-back, would draw crowds away from its own event. Instead, MEChA chose to pervert the intent of ASUCI in order to attract attention to itself and force its message down our throats. Does this group not understand that people respond much more positively to sincerity rather than sensationalism?
Seriously, though, are we to assume that because we set off fireworks and barbeque on the Fourth of July, we are being ignorant of the true importance of Independence Day? Absolutely not! We simply choose to focus on the fun part of the holiday that symbolizes the freedoms we enjoy as a result of the sacrifices made by those before us.
Another thing that really bothered me was the assumption that ASUCI Vice President of Student Services Adam Boothby was somehow ignorant or even racist in his treatment of MEChA. How is it that MEChA doesn’t seem to be able to have a disagreement with any other group on campus without racism or ignorance as the root cause of the conflict? What it certainly does know how to do is get everyone’s attention by screaming racism when it doesn’t get its way.
I believe that this oversensitivity adulterates true instances of racism, not to mention the hasty claims about Adam Boothby’s integrity. How does one refute the implication of racism? Adam is a friend of mine and I know he wouldn’t do anything to offend any group on campus (nor is he dumb enough to deliberately provoke a group as volatile as MEChA). In fact, he agreed to compromise with the leaders of MEChA when they finally met in private and settled the dilemma.
That same week, MEChA was again at odds with a group on campus. This time it was the New U. As indicated in the New U.’s editorial last week, it doesn’t have the responsibility to stop publication of all advertisements that may be construed as offensive. For MEChA to demand it to do otherwise is outrageous. There is a word for that: censorship. The New U. openly accepts the consequences of printing such ads