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(Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan)

The primary purpose of MEChA shall be to emphasize the urgent necessity of education in La Raza community. In order to successfully carry out this task, MEChA will bring into the campus as many Chicana/o students as possible and shall emphasize the importance of organizational involvement in education, cultura, social, and political empowerment of our gente. Mechistas ultimate goal is to become politically conscious (aware), strive for self-determination and liberation.

Why Should I Join?

The struggle for a just society must continue. We owe our presence on this campus to the past struggles of our sisters and brothers who fought against social injustice. Historically, people of all colors, both women and men, have been denied political power and access to higher education. This still happens today to these people who remain undocumented citizens. Thus in order to achieve both justice and equality, struggle and dedication are essential to our cause.

As students it is our duty to expose and protest all the injustices happening to our people, as well as all people who experience the oppression and injustice of this society. We must be a strong voice in the college and remain a strong and inspirational voice within our community. Keep in mind that we are an organization, a movement of activists, a chapter of National MEChA. The choice is yours to make....

M.E.Ch.A. F.A.Q.

1. What does M.E.Ch.A. mean/stand for?
M.E.Ch.A. is the acronym for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.* (The Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan)

2. How was M.E.Ch.A. formed?
Prior to 1969, there were various Chicano Student organizations such as the Mexican American Student Conference (MASC), United Mexican American Students (UMAS), and Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO), throughout Aztlan. In March 1969, students, teachers, and community activists met at the University of California at Santa Barbara and drafted El Plan De Santa Barbara, a Chicano Plan for Higher Education. At this meeting, it was agreed that all participating student organizations would take the name of M.E.Ch.A.

3. What is the difference between the terms Chicana/o and Hispanic?
The term "Hispanic" was promoted during the Nixon Administration to label Spanish-speaking people in the U.S. without regard for their cultural roots or identities. Simply put, Hispanic means a person is from Spain or the Iberian Peninsula. Since the 1960's, the term Chicana/o has become a political and cultural means of choosing our own identity and future. Simply put, Chicana/o means that we are the descendants of the original civilizations of this land (i.e. Mexica, Inca, Maya) with our own history, language, and cultura having roots in Ixachitlan (Tip of Alaska to Tierra del Fuego) older than those of the colonizer.

4. Is "Chicana/o" meant exclusively for people of Mexican descent?
No, the term Chicano is inclusive to all Raza living in Aztlan. We as M.E.Ch.A. see Chicanismo as a political identity and not a nationality.

5. Is M.E.Ch.A. as radical as they say?
If you consider the idea of higher education being used to better your community a radical belief, the yes MEChA is exactly this.

6. Is M.E.Ch.A. only a political group?
No. Not only do we provide an opportunity to become politically aware & active. We offer a broad experience of cultural, historical, social programs, and activities.

7. What can M.E.Ch.A. do for me?
M.E.Ch.A. can assist you in the consciousness raising of our people and the retention of our culture to help give our on-campus community empowerment through awareness. On an individual level, M.E.Ch.A. fosters leadership skills, self and group respect, and more friendships with Raza students. Most important, M.E.Ch.A. can help us keep our education in focus and help answer that fateful question, "Why are we here?"

8. Does M.E.Ch.A. only work on-campus?
No. M.E.Ch.A. has a direct link to community groups and we also have a nationwide network of M.E.Ch.A.s at a Junior High, High School, Community College, and University level.

9. What is El Plan De Aztlan?
The Crusade for Justice hosted the first National Chicano Liberation Youth Conference in Denver, Colorado in March of 1969. The resolutions adopted by the conference were put together in a document titled "El Plan De Aztlan".

10. What is El Plan de Santa Barbara?
In April of 1969, the Chicano Coordinating Council on Higher Education held a conference at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Participants were interested in creating programs to help Chicana and Chicano students attending California's colleges and universities. The result was a master plan for the creation of curriculum and the related auxiliary services and structure essential to facilitate Chicana and Chicano access to those institutions. This plan was called "El Plan de Santa Barbara".

11. What does M.E.Ch.A. do?
M.E.Ch.A. is a multifunctional Chicana/o nationalist organization that concentrates on political, social, educational, and cultural issues that pertain to the Chicana/o community.

12. What is the structure of M.E.Ch.A.?
Since the Chicano Coordinating Council on Higher Education conference at UC Santa Barbara in 1969, M.E.Ch.A. has become a national Chicana/o organization. M.E.Ch.A. chapters are organizing on campuses throughout Aztlan. At the national level, M.E.Ch.A. is structured by regional bodies, much like the great confederations of our ancestors in the valley of Anahuak.

13. How many Regions are there in the National M.E.Ch.A. Structure?
At the present time, there are nine (10) Regions recognized by the National M.E.Ch.A. Structure: *Alta Califas Norte * Alta Califas Sur * Calpulli Montañas del Norte * Centro Aztlan * Centro Califas * East Coast * Midwest * Pacific Northwest * Southeast Tejaztlan* Mictlampa Cihuatlampa*

14. Does M.E.Ch.A. ever meet at a National level?
In the Spring semester, M.E.Ch.A. holds a National M.E.Ch.A. Conference for ALL the M.E.Ch.A. chapters to attend.

15. What are the Regions of California?
In the State of California, we are organized into three (3) Regions:
*Alta Califas Norte * Centro Califas * Alta Califas Sur

16. Do the Regions of California ever meet?
Yes. Every semester, the State of California holds a Statewide M.E.Ch.A. Conference. The Conference location rotates between the three (3) Regions.

17. When do the Regions meet?
Each Region meets on a monthly basis in order to keep open lines of communication between the chapters in their respective Region.

18. What are Centrales?
A Central is an entity which is formed by multiple M.E.Ch.A. chapters in a Region. Centrales help to better serve the Chicana/o community. Centrales meet on a monthly basis to establish networks of communications and to outline and implement plans of action in that particular area.

19. How do you start a M.E.Ch.A.?
Every M.E.Ch.A. is different depending on the location of the campus, the demographics, and the support it receives from the campus and community.  If you need help building one, contact you local M.E.Ch.A.

20. Why is there a recognition process?
The reason for the recognition process is to make sure each chapter has the preparation and structure to be an effective M.E.Ch.A. chapter, both on their respective campus and in the barrios. Also, the recognition process is necessary to keep all individual chapters active and functioning according to Statewide/National Structure guidelines. The last two (2) paragraphs from the preamble of the California Statewide Constitution also add reason to the recognition process: "In the past, the structure of M.E.Ch.A. allowed any individual wanting to organize a chapter in any particular campus the opportunity to do so. This could occur without prior knowledge of the history and philosophical objectives of M.E.Ch.A. Thus, vast numbers of M.E.Ch.A. chapters were created with dissimilar and contradictory objectives, as well as conflicting philosophies... The following structure will make every Mechista accountable to its Chapter, every Chapter accountable to its Central, every Central accountable to its Region, and every Region accountable to the State."

21. Why is recognition necessary?
Your Chapter's information will be distributed to M.E.Ch.A. Chapters throughout the Alta Califas Sur Region, California Statewide M.E.Ch.A., and National M.E.Ch.A. for networking purposes. Your chapter will also receive Central support for your Chapter's issues. You can count on physical support from the Central such as letter writing, petitioning, phone banking, and publicizing at the Regional, Statewide, and National levels.
Your Chapter can also be contacted by perspective members whom attend or will be attending your campus.
Your Chapter will be allowed to use the name M.E.Ch.A. as your organization's name: A Chicana/o student organization which has been in existence since 1969. Your Chapter will have the opportunity to organize with the other Chapters on important issues that may be too overwhelming for an individual Chapter to undertake.
All M.E.Ch.A. Chapters whether high school or college, shall receive the support of each other. Also, if your Chapter is a high school, you will have instant access to college resources and contacts with Chicana/o students, faculty, and staff at the many colleges with M.E.Ch.A. Chapters throughout the Nation.

22. What is the procedure for becoming recognized?
Contact the External Representative of your closest Central to express your Chapter's intent of attending a Central meeting Attend two consecutive Central meetings and at the first, submit a written request for voting privileges for the next Central meeting Choose two student representatives (one male and one female, if possible) to represent your Chapter at the Central, Region, Statewide, and National levels.
Receive written and oral recognition from the Central voting body
Submit the following information to the Central Communication Center:
Mailing Address
Phone Number
Contact Person
Chapter's Constitution

23. What are the guidelines to developing a Chapter Constitution?
A constitution is the framework for your Chapter and should include the purpose of the Chapter, the requirements, rights, and obligations of the members, the officers and duties, the method of election, committees and their functions, major points regarding meetings, and the manner of making amendments.

The purpose of your Chapter should complement the purpose of your Central's Constitution:
"The purpose of this organization is to execute the objectives set forth in the following documents: El Plan de Aztlan, El Plan de Santa Barbara, The Philosophy of M.E.Ch.A., M.E.Ch.A. National Constitution, California Statewide M.E.Ch.A. Constitution, and Alta Califas Sur Regional Constitution." The constitution should fit your Chapter. (Note: To adopt another constitution as your own is a dangerous practice). Every item in the constitution should be fundamental and have a definite purpose. The Chapter's constitution should allow for amendments to be made. We are not requiring that all Chapters generate "carbon copy" constitutions. Rather, the guideline present the minimum information your constitution MUST contain from the Statewide and National constitution to be recognized as a M.E.Ch.A. Chapter. *Aztlan: The legendary homeland of the Aztecs considered to be what is now the Southwestern United States. Other interpretations include Aztlan as a state of mind.