Pacheco backs MEChA, says protests warranted

By Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 3, 1996

Ruthie M. Caffery
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA President Manuel Pacheco addresses MEChA members in Bear Down Gym at the group's weekly meeting last night.


MEChA members were right to protest against discrimination the way they had both as individuals and as a group, UA President Manuel Pacheco said last night.

"While people have the right to say whatever they want to say," he said, "they also have the responsibility to watch what they say."

Pacheco went to Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan's weekly meeting to talk about minority issues.

He said he did not receive detailed information concerning the incident and what information he did receive had come through media reports.

In the last few months MEChA members held protests to speak out against an admitted racial slur one Kappa Sigma fraternity member made.

The fraternity released an official apology March 7 and suspended the Kappa Sigma student's membership and voting privileges for the rest of the year.

Pacheco told members students had madetheir own decisions to participate in the protests while MEChA had made the decision as a group to participate in the mediated discussions between the two parties.

"You have a commitment as a group to monitor activities and you need to continue that."

But he also told them they needed to focus on where discrimination occurs and deal with it at the source, not by generalizing the discrimination of one and projecting that view on a whole group.

As an example, he said the students would find him taking any opportunity to speak out against "hate speech." He said they will see him speak at the minority student centers, inside the classrooms and at public events to fight racism, gender bias and other forms of discrimination.

Pacheco said he would also defend individuals' and groups' rights to free speech.

Members also raised the concern over MEChA's and the Chicano/Hispano student center's potential move to the Economics building.

Tomas Martinez, the group's president, said that because of the center's location in Bear Down Gymnasium, it has high traffic and high visibility.

"Personally, I was recruited (into MEChA) on the steps of Bear Down," he said.

Pacheco said he felt Chicano and Hispano students should be located closer to Latino faculty members in the Mexican American Studies program, located in the Economics building, for better mentoring opportunities.

If being located in the Economics building is not to their liking then the UA can look at other opportunities, he said.

"If you don't want it, we won't do it," Pacheco said.

Other members said they would like to see Chicano/Hispano students, who have a larger student population than the African American and Asian/Pacific Islander students together, housed in their own building as those groups are.

"I really think the Chicanos need their own cultural center," said Coby Blunt, pre-education freshman.

Members voted to form a committee to look at getting their own building.