M.E.Ch.A. gets $3,500 in funding for Dia de los Muertos ceremony

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Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan received $3,500 for its annual Dia de los Muertos ceremony from Associated Students’ Student Productions and Campus Entertainment on Oct. 13 after a vote on a request for additional funding from the A.S. Senate was postponed.

Of the $3,500 given to M.E.Ch.A, A.S. programming body S.P.A.C.E. allocated $600 to cover half the cost of entertainment and $2,900 for facility rentals, including stage, sound and lighting, according to Brenda Lacy, A.S. government secretary.

M.E.Ch.A originally requested $2,950 for the event from A.S., said David Crandall, A.S. general manager. The A.S. Finance Committee recommended that no additional funding be given to M.E.Ch.A for the event, which the A.S. senate was scheduled to vote on Oct. 11.

According to Crandall, M.E.Ch.A is allocated an annual budget of $6,700, of which A.S. specified that $2,000 be allocated for the event, also called the Day of the Dead celebration. Crandall said M.E.Ch.A should have requested $950, not $2,950, because A.S. had originally allocated money for the celebration as part of the group’s annual budget.

“The problem (the Finance Committee) had with (M.E.Ch.A’s) request had a fairly large dollar figure tied to it, but there was brief description of where that money would go,” Crandall said.

Members of M.E.Ch.A and students from the Chicano/a Studies Department had originally urged the Associated Students Senate on Oct. 11 to reconsider the importance of their annual Dia de los Muertos celebration following a recommendation from the A.S. Finance Committee that the event not receive additional funding.

Members of M.E.Ch.A, Chicano/a Studies students and professors, as well as CSUN alumni, voiced their support for the upcoming celebration at the meeting.

“We are inviting the city of San Fernando to a Day of the Dead celebration,” said Enrique Galan, concilio chair of M.E.Ch.A.

The attendance of more than 20 students in support of M.E.Ch.A and its Dia de los Muertos celebration was sparked by an action item on the agenda proposed by the A.S. Finance Committee to allocate no new funding from the unallocated reserves account for the purpose of the celebration.

Following discussion, the action item proposing the allocation of zero dollars was postponed until Oct. 18 as members of both A.S. and M.E.Ch.A. awaited word from S.P.A.C.E. on whether funding would be available for the event.

The celebration of Day of the Dead started about 20 years ago and takes place each year, Chicano/a Studies Professor Maria-Isabel Herrera told the A.S. Senate.

Each year people come from as far as Oxnard participate in the Dia de los Muertos celebration at CSUN, she said.

About $3,000 dollars was spent on the Day of the Dead celebration last year, Galan said.

Galan also told the senate that one scheduled performer for this year’s celebration guarantees at least 500 attendees as a result of the performer’s promotions of the event.

A.S. Vice President Safa Sajadi pulled triple duties at the meeting, filling in for A.S. President Chad Charton, who was out sick, and Hamid Jahangard, who resigned Oct. 10 as A.S. attorney general, citing personal reasons. Sajadi said she would help Charton with parliamentary procedures for the next two to three weeks.

The attorney general is required to be present at each senate meeting, and is responsible for noting the absences of senators, along with counting votes on action items.

The attorney general also serves as a peer adviser to the A.S. president, vice president, senate, and members of the executive branch to interpret language in A.S. bylaws and codes. The attorney general also chairs the Constitutional Affairs Board, which among other things determines A.S. constitutionality and oversees the development and consistency of constitutions from various student clubs and organizations.

With the attorney general seat vacant, the policy is to advertise the opening in the Daily Sundial for two weeks, Sajadi said.

Throughout the next two to three weeks, Diana Medina, A.S. director of personnel, will interview people who are interested in the position, and will issue her recommendation for approval by the senate.

At the end of the meeting, Tom Piernik, university adviser, reminded the senate that it is at a disadvantage because they do not have a faculty adviser. The faculty adviser would serve as a liaison between the faculty at large and the senate, notifying the senate of issues from the faculty level that might be of interest to the group.

Sajadi said the faculty adviser position has been vacant during her four years of involvement with A.S., but added that she is currently seeking someone to fill the position.

Michael Salseda can be reached at michael.salseda@gmail.com.