MEChA was founded in 1960 by college students across the United States to advocate for more representation of Hispanic and Latino students on college campuses. Currently, the student-led organization, in San Diego some of the largest colleges such as University of California San Diego and San Diego State University have rapidly growing MEChA clubs. MEChA stands for “Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan” in Spanish, which translates to “Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan.”
For Chicanos, Aztlan is the act of reclaiming their places in American history and providing American students with teachings about their culture
Per its constitution, MEChA originally started for three reasons: to educate members and the community about the political, cultural, social, economic and philosophical issues that pertain to the Chicanx community with an emphasis on Indigenous heritage, to raise awareness of Chicanxs within the college community who have regionalized experiences of their identity and culture and to combine theory and practice in our activism and seek social and economic justice as a Chicanx Student Movement.
Shortly after MEChA was created, colleges from all over the U.S. came together to create this constitution as a reference and building block for future MEChA leaders.
Ernesto Orozco, a previous director of MEChA at High Tech High Media Arts, explained why MEChA is important to continue on college campuses such as Point Loma Nazarene University.
“One of the main reasons MeCHA exists is to bring people together,” Orozco said. “Because the number of Hispanic and Latino students had been so low for so many years, when you are a Hispanic Latino student and you get into college there is a culture shock because you are going into a space that is not necessarily welcoming to you or built for you.”
Orozco explained the original purposes of MEChA in supporting college students.
“The purpose of MeCHA, firstly and foremost, is a space for Hispanic/Latino students to come together,” Orozco said. “Students really want to feel connected to each other. They wanted a space to connect, that is really the beginning of MeCHA and what MeCHA stands for.”
In San Diego, the largest MEChA group is located at San Diego State University (SDSU).
Sharon Sabino, a fourth-year Chicano and Chicana Studies major at SDSU and president of MEChA at SDSU talked about what the goal for MEChA at SDSU is and how they get involved with other MEChA communities in San Diego.
Sabino explained how MEChA was started to help Hispanic students seeking higher education.
“We try to be involved. It’s about being involved in your community, because that’s how change happens.” Sabino said. “One of the biggest things that the MEChA at SDSU has done is our annual high school conference. We try to let them know that they belong here. There’s people like them here in these places and you can succeed.”
“MEChA is always about students and building student advocacy,” Sabino said. “We also try to inst cultural pride by saying you need to honor where you came from, your cultural background, your roots. You need to not forget about that and still be involved in your community because without community you’re nothing.”
Associated Student Body President Nathan Shoup responded to some questions regarding the potential of MEChA joining PLNU’s campus.
“Regardless of what student population, I believe that we as a student body all shall strive toward seeing each other as beloved,” Shoup said. “Meaning this: If MEChA were to bring about beloved unification through trusted collaboration for Christ’s Exaltation then that would be beneficial to our community,. This statement is filtered through the convictions that we as the Associated Student Body Board of Directors have felt and live out when we practice our work. These are my remarks which are centered in something larger than how I feel, rather the very thing that we as a campus community are striving toward this year and hopefully for years to come: Beloved Community.”
Shoup said he encourages students interested in starting a MEChA club on PLNU’s campus to have a conversation with Maya Walker, the director of multicultural and international student services.
“After this conversation I would strongly urge the student to also have a conversation with the Associate Vice President for Diversity and Belonging, Dr. Walter Augustine,” Shoup writes. “Maya and Dr. Augustine ultimately desire to see the flourishing of PLNU students as their top priority.”
I personally believe that PLNU could benefit from MEChA because of the community MEChA builds with students. MEChA isn’t just limited to students who are Hispanic; MEChA opens doors for students who may also struggle with underrepresentation and a sense of not belonging on a college campus. MEChA brings unity among students and encourages students to be advocates.