Members of the Chicana/o studies club, MEChA, traveled to Arizona for a weekend of political campaigning.
Students including junior Omar Romero, communications major, campaigned for the congressional candidate for the Democratic party, Raul Grijalva.
“I’m a hard-core democrat and wanted to see a democratic candidate elected,” the 20-year-old said. “He (Grijalva) shares the same values and beliefs as me.”
Grijalva’s career in public service for Tucson has spanned over 30 years. He has served as the representative for Arizona’s 7th district, which includes Yuma, Nogales, and part of Tucson since 2003.
A graduate of the University of Arizona and former member of MEChA, Grijalva has been a vocal opponent of the recently enacted Arizona laws, which requires police to investigate a person’s
immigration status if there is reasonable cause to suspect the person has committed a crime.
Talina Lugo, Chicana/o studies major, said the circumstances in Arizona sparked an interest to visit the state.
“It’s one thing to observe these things on TV and another to go out there and experience it for yourself,” Lugo said.
Grijalva, also an advocate for education, has sponsored and authored several bill proposals in support of students in their quest for academic achievement.
He is also in opposition to the HB2281 law, which dismantled the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona schools.
“Kids are going to grow up not knowing their roots because teachers are not allowed to educate them on certain things,“ said Osvaldo Larita, kinesiology major.
Lugo said that unlike many politicians, Grijalva refrained from flashy campaign strategies.
“He’s not a politician,” Lugo said. “He’s raza. He cares about his people and isn’t afraid to take a stand for his beliefs. He stayed focused on the issues and his values.”
Larita, 20, said the students received a warm welcome from Grijalva’s campaign team, whose team members told them the student activists were a breath of fresh air to the campaign.
“They were so friendly,” Larita said. “They shared their stories with us and got us pumped up to go out there and advocate for their candidate.”
He added that a local bed and breakfast owner closed her business for the CSUN group.
“They treated us really well,” Larita said. “We felt first-class.”
Mayra Amezcua, 19, liberal studies major, said the weekend gave the MEChA members an opportunity to bond as well as campaign.
“You get to see a different side of people,” Amezcua said. “We were caring for each other and also developed a real concern for each other.”
She said Grijalva’s campaign for education struck a chord with her as it is her area of interest.
“The trip gave me motivation to try to change the school system,” she said. “To create change you have to act.”
Grijalva kept his Congressional District 7 seat in Arizona, beating Republican candidate Ruth McClung in a close race.
Lugo said she returned to CSUN with a new awareness and motivation to be more active and vocal about her beliefs and values.
“The experience was eye-opening,” Lugo said. “It gave me a fire to bring awareness to my own community.”