El Plan de Santa Barbara: Page 3
The Function of M.E.Ch.A. - To the Campus Community Other students can be important to M.E.Ch.A. in supportive roles; hence, the question of coalitions. Although it is understood and quite obvious that the viability and amenability of coalition varies form campus to campus, some guidelines might be kept in mind. These questions should be asked before entering into any binding agreement. Is it beneficial to tie oneself to another group in coalition which will carry one into conflicts for which on is ill-prepared or involve one with issues on which one is ill-advised? Can one sagely go into a coalition where one group is markedly stronger than another? Does M.E.Ch.A. have an equal voice in leadership and planning in the coalition group? Is it perhaps better to enter into a loose alliance for a given issue? How does leadership of each group view coalitions? How does the membership? Can M.E.Ch.A. hold up its end of the bargain? Will M.E.Ch.A. carry dead weight in a coalition? All of these and many more questions must be asked and answered before one can safely say that he/she will benefit from and contribute to a strong coalition effort.
Supportive groups. When moving on campus it is often well-advised to have groups who are willing to act in supportive roles. For example, there are usually any number of faculty members who are sympathetic, but limited as to the numbers of activities they will engage in. These faculty members often serve on academic councils and senates and can be instrumental in academic policy. They also provide another channel to the academic power structure and can be used as leverage in negotiation. However, these groups are only as responsive as the ties with them are nurtured. This goes not mean, compromise M.E.Ch.A.'s integrity; it merely means laying good groundwork before an issue is brought up, touching bases with your allies before hand. Sympathetic administrators. This a delicate area since administrators are most interested in not jeopardizing their positions and often will try to act as buffers or liaison between the administration and the student group. In the case of Chicano administrators, it should not be priori be assumed, he/she must be given the chance to prove his/her allegiance to La Causa. As such, he/she should be the Chicano's person in the power structure instead of the administration's Mexican-American. It is from the administrator that information can be obtained as to the actual feasibility of demands or programs to go beyond the platitudes and pleas of unreasonableness with which the administration usually answers proposals and demands.
The words of the administrator should never be the deciding factor in students' actions. The student must at all time make their own decisions. It is very human for people to establish self-interest. Therefore, students must constantly remind the Chicano administrators and faculty where their loyalty and allegiance lie. It is very easy for administrators to begin looking for promotions just as it is very natural for faculty members to seek positions of academic prominence. In short, it is the students who must keep after Chicano and non-Chicano administrators and faculty to see that they do not compromise the position of the student and the community. By the same token, it is the student who must come to the support of these individuals if they are threatened for their support of the student. Students must be careful not to become a political level for others.
Function of M.E.Ch.A. - Education It is a fact that the Chicano has not often enough written his/her own history, his/her own anthropology, his/her own sociology, his/her own literature. He/she must do this if he is to survive as a cultural entity in this melting pot society, which seeks to dilute varied cultures into a gray upon gray pseudo-culture of technology and materialism. The Chicano student is doing most of the work in the establishment of study programs, centers, curriculum development, entrance programs to get more Chicano into college. This is good and must continue, but students must be careful not to be co-opted in their fervor for establishing relevance on the campus. Much of what is being offered by college systems and administrators is too little too late. M.E.Ch.A. must not compromise programs and curriculum which are essential for the total education of the Chicano for the sake of expediency. The students must not become so engrossed in programs and centers created along establishes academic guidelines that they forget the needs of the people which these institutions are meant to serve. To this end, barrio input must always be given full and open hearing when designing these programs, when creating them and in running them. The jobs created by these projects must be filled by competent Chicanos, not only the Chicano who has the traditional credentials required for the position, but one who has the credentials of the Raza. To often in the past the dedicated pushed for a program only to have a vendido sharp-talker come in and take over and start working for his Anglo administrator. Therefore, students must demand a say in the recruitment and selection of all directors and assistant directors of student-initiated programs. To further insure strong if not complete control of the direction and running of programs, all advisory and steering committees should have both student and community components as well as sympathetic Chicano faculty as member.
Tying the campus to the barrio. The colleges and universities in the past have existed in an aura of omnipotence and infallibility. It is time that they be made responsible and responsive to the communities in which they are located or whose member they serve. As has already been mentioned, community members should serve on all program related to Chicano interests. In addition to this, all attempts must be made to take the college and university to the barrio, whether it be in form of classes giving college credit or community centers financed by the school for the use of community organizations and groups. Also, the barrio must be brought to the campus, whether it be for special programs or ongoing services which the school provides for the people of the barrio. The idea must be made clear to the people of the barrio that they own the schools and the schools and all their resources are at their disposal.
The student group must utilize the resources open to the school for the benefit of the barrio at every opportunity. This can be done by hiring more Chicanos to work as academic and non-academic personnel on the campus; this often requires exposure of racist hiring practices now in operation in may college and universities. When functions, social, or otherwise, are held in the barrio under the sponsorship of the college and university, monies should be spent in the Barrio. This applies to hiring Chicano contractors to build on campus, etc. Many colleges and universities have publishing operations which could be forced to accept barrio works for publication. Many other things could be considered in using the resources of the school to the barrio. There are possibilities for using the physical plant and facilities not mentioned here, but this is an area which has great potential. M.E.Ch.A. in the Barrio Most colleges in the southwest are located near or in the same town as a barrio. Therefore, it is the responsibility of M.E.Ch.A. members to establish close working relationship with organization in the barrio.
The M.E.Ch.A. people must be able to take the pulse of the barrio
and be able to respond to it. However, M.E.Ch.A. must be careful not
to overstep its authority or duplicate the efforts of another organization
already in the barrio. M.E.Ch.A. must be able to relate to all segments
of the barrio, from the middle-class assimilationists to the vatos locos.
Obviously, every barrio has its particular needs, and M.E.Ch.A. people
must determine with the help of those in the barrio where they can be
most effective. There are, however, some general areas which M.E.Ch.A.
can involve itself. Some of them are:
Do not let loyalty to an organization cloud responsibility to a greater force - la Causa. Working in the barrio is an honor, but is also a right because we come form these people, and as, mutual respect between the barrio and the college group should be the rule. Understand at the same time, however, that there will initially be mistrust and often envy on the part of some in the barrio for the college student. This mistrust must be broken down by a demonstration of affection for the barrio and La Raza through hard work and dedication. If the approach is one of a dilettante or of a Peace Corps volunteer, the people will know it and act accordingly. If it is merely a cathartic experience to work among the unfortunate in the barrio - stay out. Of the community, for the community. Por la Raza habla el espiritu.