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MEChA Loses ASSU Funding

by Dan Taron
Acting News Editor

Undergraduates voted against giving MEChA, a Chicano group whose literature the Review exposed as racist in October, special fees of about $40,000 for the 2004-2005 school year.

The special fee has traditionally covered a host of Chicano/Latino events on campus beyond just MEChA activities, including El Dia de los Muertos, the Cinco de Mayo Celebration, International Women’s Day Panel, Raza Day High School Conference, and Cesar Chavez Commemoration.

The ASSU voter’s guide lists the total MEChA budget at over $100,000, with about 60% of the funds coming from academic departments, El Centro Chicano, and the Stanford Fund.

The largest line item of the budget is honoraria for speakers like Cruz Bustamante and Jesse Jackson.

The MEChA special fee got 1329 votes, but there were 1357 votes against the special fee, making MEChA the group with the highest percentage of votes below the 50% cutoff.

The investigative report and editorial on MEChA by the Review earlier in the year are widely thought to have swayed the vote.

The Oct. 13 editorial states “Stanford MEChA currently receives more than $40,000 per year in special fees from Stanford students through the ASSU. We wonder what percentage of the student body that voted for MEChA specials fees knew of the racism embedded within its founding documents.” The offending documents are still on the MEChA web site in the “about” section, with no disclaimer.

Neither the editorial nor the investigative piece accused students in Stanford MEChA of racism, but rather called on them to reject the racism of their documents and the national network of MEChA.

As the Review called on MEChA not to stop its activism or existence, but rather to renounce its racist links, the rejection of the special fee is seen by many as a concurrence of the student body that MEChA should rethink its ties before next year’s elections.

Having received ASSU special fees for many years, MEChA was expected to easily win approval for its budget. The unexpected upset has surprised and shocked many MEChA members. One MEChA member, Alida Garcia, who was arrested by the police in 2001 for trespassing during a protest against labor subcontracting by the Stanford Hospital, appeared particularly alarmed at the outcome of the election.

Currently serving as the Assistant Elections Commissioner for the ASSU, Alida Garcia was quoted in the Daily as saying “Ya’ll suck for that [voting against the MEChA special fee], personally” immediately after she officially announced the special fees results for MEChA.

However, many students were satisfied with the vote. Junior Sam Chang said, “I think it’s a good thing that people are starting to look at where their special fees are going. I think that if MEChA wants to receive special fee funding in the future it should rethink the services that it directly provides to the community.

”MEChA has faced a growing concern amongst the Stanford student body that it is an organization linked to racism. The historical document most commonly cited as evidence of MEChA’s historical ties to racism is “El Plan de Aztlán.” This organizational blueprint for MEChA dates back to the late 60’s. Its text outlines organizational objectives including the “liberation” of the southwestern United States and its return to the Chicano community. The co-chairs of MEChA as well as the director of El Centro Chicano failed to return e-mails from the Review.