Heated debate at A.S. meeting over MEChA funding

Jessica Jewell

A.S. approved funding $1,000 to Moviemento Estudantil Chicana/o de Aztlan (MEChA) for the Raza Youth Conference Tuesday after three failed motions on the floor.

MEChA originally requested $1,300 from A.S. to pay for the transportation of high school students from underprivileged communities to enable them to attend the event.

A large group of MEChA members and supporters spoke during open forum to argue for the additional funding.

“It will be a reflection on A.S. and their priority for higher education in their A.S. budgeting,” said Raza Youth Conference Coordinator Diego Paniagua.

MEChA is hosting the event at CSUN and caters to youth in the greater Los Angeles region including the Antelope Valley, parts of Orange County and Ventura County.

MEChA’s focus with the Raza Youth Conference is to raise awareness to students who lack resources and education about the ins and outs of getting into college. They provide information on the application process, options for undocumented people and workshops to strengthen cultural identity and cohesion.

“This is a direct promotion of higher education. The funding is crucial because lots of communities suffer from low funding and it’s hard for them to get students to CSUN,” said Sergio Baynori, Raza Youth Conference co-director.

Some senators argued they were not in support of providing funding for people who are not CSUN constituents. They explained there are hundreds of CSUN clubs and organizations  that frequently come to A.S. asking for funding. There was an emphasis placed on reserving A.S. funding for activities that directly affect current CSUN students, not prospective students.

I don’t think it makes sense to make an exception to bring people on campus,” said Senator William Ryder.

Discordance filled the room and a frustrated member of the audience left as motions were struck down by the voting body for both $1,200 and $1,100.

“Keep in mind that 36 percent of your constituency is of Latina/o culture,” said Senator Laquae  Felix. Financial consistency was reiterated as most clubs and organizations are given a cap of $3,000 per event.

“I remember allocating $20,000 to a hockey team to play off campus. That has nothing to do with higher education,” said Senator Brande Hookfin. “Even though it was a national competition I don’t remember it being televised.”

MEChA members stood in solidarity and filled half the room as the heated debate between A.S. senators went on for half an hour before a decision was made.
“We need more student representation to hold them (A.S.) accountable,” M.E.Ch.A. member Jose Martinez said.