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M.E.Ch.

A
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan

STARTER KIT
TABLE OF CONTENTS

HISTORY OF MEChA……………………………………………………… 2

EXTERNAL MEChA……………………………………………………. ….3

QUESTIONS MOST OFTEN ASKED ABOUT MEChA NATIONAL MEChA….4

ORGANIZING A CAMPUS MEChA CHAPTER………..…….………………6

MEChA REGIONS…………………………………………………………10

ARGUMENTS SUPPORTING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF MEChA STUDENT


ORGANIZATION IN HIGH SCHOOLS……………………………..…………12

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HISTORY OF MOVIMIENTO ESTUDIANTIL CHICANO
DE AZTLÁN
The Chicano Movement, of the late l960s, helped spark cultural and historical pride in
our people. Chicana/os demanded to be treated as equals, denounced acculturation, and
assimilation. Chicana/os expressed their pride through poetry, literature, art, and theatre.
The contributions of the Chicano movement are numerous and continue to be valuable to
our society.

In March of 1969 the Crusade for justice organized the first National Chicano Youth
Conference in Denver, Colorado. At this conference the Plan de Aztlan was drafted;
giving way to the Chicano movement. This document asserts that Chicana/os must work
to better the conditions of their communities.

Following the National Chicano Youth Conference, in April of 1969, over 100
Chicanas/Chicanos met together at the University of California Santa Barbara to
formulate a plan for higher education: El Plan de Santa Barbara. With this document they
were successful in the development of two important contributions to the Chicano
Movement: Movimiento Estudintil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) and Chicano Studies.

MEChA is a Chicano Nationalist organization, composed by students that promote higher


Education, political involvement, cultura, and historia. MEChA was founded on
the principles of self-determination for the liberation of our people. We believe that
education is the avenue for improving the conditions of our gente.

MEChA uses El Plan de Santa Barbara and El Plan de Aztlan as guiding documents.
Today, over 35 years after its creation, there are MEChA Chapters from coast to coast,
and there are an even bigger Number of MEChA’s at high schools and junior colleges
throughout the United States.

Our gente still faces the same problems of the 1970’s, Chicana/Chicano junior high, high
school and college push out rates have risen since 1969, forcing many Chicanas and
Chicanos to a life of poverty. These factors along with a growing right wing trend in the
nation are combining to work greater hardships on Chicanas and Chicanos. New
repressive and racist immigration laws are continuously directed at our Gente. Thus
M.E.Ch.A’s spirit of activism is conduced within experience and expression for the
betterment of our community.

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EXTERNAL MEChA STRUCTURE
In the past, the structure of M.E.Ch.A allowed any individual wanting to organize
a chapter on 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 with dissimilar and contradictory objectives as well as
conflicting philosophies.
Recognizing the ineffectiveness of this previous M.E.Ch.A organizational
structure and the philosophical polarity that it allowed, we propose that the following
structure be adopted which makes every Mechista accountable to its chapter, every chapter
accountable to its central (where applicable), every central accountable to its region, every
region accountable to its state (where applicable), and every state accountable to the national
(The Philosophy of MEChA).
MEChA adopts the bottom up structure:

Mechista (Individual)
An individual who adopts the philosophies of MEChA

Chapter
The group of Mechistas at a College, University or High School campus

Central (if applicable)


A collection of chapters in a particular area or community within a MEChA region.

Región
A collection of Chapters/Centrales in a particular area or state(s).

Statewide (if applicable)


A collection of regions, centrals and/or chapters within their respective state.

National MEChA
Composed of the following ten regions:
Alta Califas Norte, Alta Califas Sur, Calpulli Montañas del Norte, Centro Aztlan, Centro
Califaztlan, Este Aztlan, Mictlampa Cihuatlampa, Tierra Mid-Atl, Pacific Northwest, and
Southeast Tejaztlan.

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QUESTIONS MOST OFTEN ASKED ABOUT MEChA
What is MEChA?
MEChA is an acronym for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan. MEChA is a
National student organization. The goals of MEChA are to promote and recruit students
into higher education, retain our cultural identity, preserve and study our history,
maintain ties with the Chicano community, and become politically active.

What are the Guiding Documents?


MEChA has three guiding documents: El Plan de Aztlan, El Plan de Santa Barbara, and
the Philosophy of MEChA.

Our guiding documents serve as the base for MEChA. They serve to guide our
organization and outline our philosophy and principles. These documents must be
discussed fully by the chapter.

What are the Governing Documents?


Each Chapter is governed by its respective constitution, central constitution, regional
constitution, statewide constitution, National MEChA Constitution and the Philosophy
of MEChA. These constitutions govern our affairs.

What is the importance of Regional Voting Rights?


Voting rights give active chapters the right to vote on issues. There are guidelines
outlined for each respective region that must be followed in order to attain
voting rights. Once a chapter gains voting rights they can exercise their vote and become
recognized at Regional, Statewide and National meetings.

How can my chapter obtain voting rights?


Voting rights vary by region. A chapter may only gain voting rights through their
respective region.

*For a detailed outline on gaining voting rights, contact a voting chapter within the
region or an NMCC representative. Find your region click here.

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What is Chicanismo?
Chicanismo involves a personal decision to reject assimilation and work towards the
preservation of our cultural heritage. Therefore, the term Chicano is grounded in a
philosophy, not a nationality. Chicano is a state of mind, not a birthright. Recognizing
that all people are potential Chicanas and Chicanos, we encourage those interested in
developing a total commitment to our movement for self-determination for the people
of Aztlan to join MEChA. (Philosophy of MEChA)

What is Chicano Nationalism?


Nationalism is usually defined in academic dictionaries as the connection/tie/pride in a
particular nation and connotes a sense of patriotism.
Chicano Nationalism within MEChA & the Chicano movement differs because there is
no specific nation to adhere to. Aztlan is not a necessarily defined territory. Instead,
Chicano Nationalism is more of an ideal, in which Raza no matter class or specific
nationality sees one another as familia. It is a means of unification. It is an understanding
and realization that we share a common experience living as Raza in US society. Our
communities all face similar social problems such as poverty, the need for bilingual
education, racism, etc...

What can I expect to gain out of MEChA?


MEChA is a training ground for leadership. Through participating and coordinating
MEChA events, one can gain invaluable leadership skills. Mechistas also have the
privilege of helping fellow students and their community in addition to finding a sense
of identity and self empowerment. It is a learning and fulfilling experience that helps
develop a political consciousness and provides a sense of familia.

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NATIONAL MEChA
Ten regions make up National MEChA. These regions include: Tierra Mid-Atl, Centro
Aztlan, Pacific Northwest, Mictlampa Cihuatlampa, Southeast Tejaztlan, Alta Califas
Sur, Centro Califaztlan, Alta Califas Norte, Calpuilli Mantanas del Norte, and Este
Aztlan MEChA Region.

National MEChA is governed by the National MEChA Constitution.

National MEChA Conference

National MEChA meets once a year during the spring at the National MEChA
Conference held at alternate regions throughout the nation. The purpose of this
conference shall be to bring all M.E.Ch.A chapters together in an effort to form a
M.E.Ch.A. National Conference structure that advocates a common M.E.Ch.A.
philosophy, works towards unified goals and objectives, and reaffirms the principles of
M.E.Ch.A. to consolidate our Movement.

National Conference Activities


The National MEChA Conference is held from Thursday evening through Sunday
afternoon. Approximately, one thousand Mechistas attend the conference. On Thursday
evening there is a Noche de Cultura where we may enjoy Chicana/o comedy, poetry,
danza Azteca, and plays. Educational workshops are offered on Friday and Saturday,
most of which are facilitated by Mechistas. Sundays are reserved for the resolution circle
wherein all voting national MEChA chapters vote on proposals and/or advocacy
agendas.

National MEChA Liaisons


There are at least three national liaisons held at alternate National MEChA Regions for
the planning of the National MEChA Conference.

National MEChA Coordinator Council (NMCC)


National MEChA is structured by regions. There are two Representatives from each of
the recognized M.E.Ch.A Regions in National M.E.Ch.A that make up the Council. Each
region elects two representatives, a male and a female. The NMCC elects the National
MEChA co-chairs. The council meets at alternate regions throughout the nation to
discuss issues affecting their respective regions among other issues. The NMCC has the
power to vote on important national issues on behalf of their region.

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ORGANIZING A CAMPUS M.E.Ch.A CHAPTER
This section of the Handbook covers setting up, maintaining, and building campus
M.E.Ch.A chapters. We hope that it will provide guidance, structure, and unity of
purpose for new and growing M.E.Ch.A chapters. M.E.Ch.A is much more than a club;
it is a movement founded on the principles of self-determination for the liberation of our
Gente. We believe that political involvement and education is the avenue for change in
our society. In order to do this we need an organized, focused organization with
committed leaders and members who are willing to be role models for our community.
We must be willing to build and demonstrate strong character in mind and body if we
are to accomplish significant change in attitudes and behavior in our families, friends,
acquaintances, and leaders.

A. Starting a MEChA Chapter


1. M.E.Ch.A. Perspective:
As you set up your organization, it is very important that the membership be clear on the
purpose and perspective of M.E.Ch.A. M.E.Ch.A is a Chicano nationalist student
organization, as stated in our Philosophy, “Our fundamental drive is to organize and
challenge Chicana/Chicano estudiantes to maintain self-respect and dignity to overcome
historical prejudices and discrimination against the Chicana and Chicano Gente. The
historic mission of M.E.Ch.A involves an educational plan of action that builds an
educational ladder for the advancement of our people. Recognizing that the strength of
our movement is rooted in our barrios, M.E.Ch.A pledges itself to reach out to the
community and schools, to establish new educational opportunities. We also recognize
that our M.E.Ch.A chapters are much stronger when they are rooted in and accountable
to the Chicana/Chicano community. Consequently, We, Mechistas commit ourselves to
return to our community and contribute to the development of the Chicana/Chicano
Nation” (The Philosophy of MEChA). M.E.Ch.A serves as a supportive network to help
Raza students get through college, encourages our youth, and takes up issues that affect
our people on the campus, in the work place, and in our communities. Students come to
M.E.Ch.A to learn leadership skills and provide mutual support for each other.

2. Getting together a core:


If you are on a campus where there is no existing M.E.Ch.A chapter and wish to start a
chapter, the process is not difficult. The first step is to gather a core of interested
students, friends, or others who are willing to help. This could be as few as one or two
students, however your vision, enthusiasm, commitment, and organization will
determine how many students actually participate.

3. Soliciting help from an established MEChA Chapter:


At this point it would be helpful to contact the nearest recognized MEChA chapter to for
a workshop presentation on the history, purpose, structure and philosophy of MEChA
(i.e. MEChA 101).

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4. Structure
You will want to make sure this structure insures that M.E.Ch.A will function
democratically. Most M.E.Ch.A organizations hold democratic election of officers who
are accountable to the general membership and use Robert’s Rules of Order (or Beto’s
Rules of Order) as the form of parliamentary procedure to run meetings. Setting up
committees such as Fundraising and Events or ongoing committees, which focus on
educational rights, political education, or cultural work examples. You may also want to
set up a steering committee/executive committee made up of the elected officers and
committee heads, which can function in a collective manner.

5. Campus policies for student clubs and funding:


You will need to investigate your schools policies for establishing student clubs. This
information can be obtained through the student government (AS) or the Student
Activities department on your campus. These rules will inform you of the requirements
needed to set up a club/organization (i.e. number of members needed, advisors, officer
requirements, constitution, etc.). You will also want to investigate procedures for getting
AS funding, proposal deadlines, and the types of activities that can be funded. Most
campuses require clubs/organizations to have a faculty or staff advisor. Select someone
who understands their role as an advisor (an advisor is one who gives advice it is to the
discretion of the chapter if they choose to take it) and, allows the students themselves to
make the decisions. Choose someone who will not impose their personal agendas. In
most cases, it is against the law of administrators or Associated Student Governments to
deny individuals the right to establish ethnic heritage organizations as long as all school
students are given the opportunity and encouraged to participate.

6. Recruiting new members:


An important part of maintaining a healthy M.E.Ch.A is to recruit new members. New
members bring new ideas to M.E.Ch.A. One key in attracting new members is to have
high visibility of M.E.Ch.A on campus. This means posting leaflets, doing mail outs,
tabling during class registration and making classroom presentations. Many Raza and
other supportive professors will let you make a brief announcement and pass out flyers
in their classes. However, the best way to recruit new members is to identify your
purpose and goals, and to plan and execute activities that promote that purpose and these
goals.

7. M.E.Ch.A. Meetings:
Be organized! No one likes to waste their time. Identify why you are meeting, make an
agenda and follow it, keep members focused, encourage participation, and use a
structured form of procedure in every meeting (most organizations use a form of
Robert’s Rules of Order). At the first meeting, you may want to have a brainstorming
session on the type of social, political, cultural, or educational activities that M.E.Ch.A
can take up, or what issues are of collective and democratic manner, involving as many
students as possible. In this way you will ensure the success of your activities. You can
then make a calendar for M.E.Ch.A activities for the quarter/semester.

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8. Integrating members into the activities:
To keep your membership you need to encourage all members to participate. Because of
the conditions we face as a people, many Raza students today have to work, go to class
and study. As stated in EPSB, the strengths, weaknesses, and talents of each member
should be known so that they may be utilized to the greatest advantage. Know one
another. Part of the reason that students will come to the organization is in search of self-
fulfillment. Give that individual the opportunity to show what she/he can do. Although
the Movement stresses collective behavior, it is important that the individual be
recognized and given credit for his/her efforts. When people who work in close
association know one another well, it is more conductive to self-criticism and re-
evaluation, and this every M.E.Ch.A person must be willing to submit to. Periodic self-
criticism often eliminates static cycles of unproductive behavior.

B. Gaining Chapter Recognition:


As outlined in the National Constitution-

In order to be a MEChA chapter recognized by the Regional, it (the chapter) shall adopt
and abide by the following responsibilities:

A) Orient all members by discussing and reading historical documents of our


Movimiento including: El Plan de Santa Barbara, El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, and
the MEChA position papers of Philosophy, Constitutions, Relations to Outside
Organizations, and Goals & objectives.

CONTACT AN ESTABLISHED MEChA CHAPTER NEAREST YOUR CAMPUS FOR AN


ORIENTATION WORKSHOP ON MEChA AND THE MENTIONED DOCUMENTS.

B) Make important aspects of the Chicano Movement relevant to Mechistas.

C) Send at least one (1) representative to the Regional meetings to be recognized as a


voting chapter.

FOR DETAILED MEETING INFORMATION CONTACT YOUR RESPECTIVE MEChA REGION.


(SEE BELOW)

*(Article III National MEChA Structure Section 24).

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MEChA REGIONS
Any campus wanting to become a recognized MEChA Chapter must gain its affiliation
and voting rights through their recognized regional. Voting rights within regions vary,
for detailed information contact your region.

Alphabetical order

Alta Califas Norte:


The region is composed of MEChA chapters in northern California, which include the
southern boundary of San Joaquin County to the northern California/Oregon border.

Email: Norcal_commcenter@yahoo.com

Alta Califas Sur:


MEChA chapters in and south of Ventura County, and in and north of the San
Diego and Imperial Valley Counties

Email: centrales_acsmr@yahoogroups.com

Calpulli Montanas del Norte:


MEChA chapters within the states of Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

Email: calpulli_montanas@yahoogroups.com

Centro Aztlan:
The region is comprised of New Mexico, Arizona and El Paso, Texas.

Email: centroaztlanregion1969@yahoogroups.com

Centro Califaztlan:
The region is composed of chapters within central California, between the Southern
boundary of San Joaquin County to chapters north of Ventura County.

Email: CentrocalifAZTLAN_Region@yahoogroups.com

Este Aztlan:
The region is composed of MEChA chapter’s within the District of Columbia,
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey,
New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont.

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Email: esteaztlan@yahoogroups.com

Mictlampa Cihuatlampa:
The region is composed of MEChA chapters within the state of Oregon.

Email:

Pacific Northwest:
The region is composed of MEChA chapters within the states of Idaho, Alaska,
Washington and Hawaii

Email: pnmr@riseup.net

Southeast Tejaztlan:
The region is composed of MEChA Chapters within all of Tejas except for the city of El
Paso.

Email: tejaztlan@yahoogroups.com

Tierra Mid-Atl:
Composed of the Midwest states North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas,
Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois,
Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

Email: mecha_tierramidatl@yahoo.com

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ARGUMENTS SUPPORTING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
MEChA IN HIGH SCHOOLS
The tradition of student organization in the high school level is long standing. Student
organizations serve a viable and an important role in student development and
leadership. El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), a Chicana/o student
organization which emerged in 1969, contributes to the goals and diversity of the
tradition of student organizations at the high school level. This list is by no way
exhaustive.

1. A central principle of MEChA is to affirm and celebrate diversity amongst its


members. This affirmation and celebration is significant in the development of positive
and strong cultural identity among Raza students. Research clearly indicates that an
individual who has a strong identity will also have a healthy self-image. A positive self-
image contributes to how one interacts with others, academic performance and a variety
of other efforts and settings which students are involved in.

2. A second central principle of MEChA is to involve students in discussing and


acting on social-political issues relevant to their community. This involvement is
significant in introducing students to the political nature of our community. Political
activism is significant in producing civic-minded youth in our communities. There is
much intrinsic value for students to put into practice the political ideals taught in the
classroom.

3. A third central principle of MEChA is the importance of developing leadership


among students. Students who serve as MEChA officers gain much from this leadership
experience. Leadership development is significant since many ethnic students
particularly Chicana/os do not access mainstream student leadership opportunities.

4. A fourth central principle of MEChA is that of academic achievement and


completion. MEChA strongly believes that self-determination of our community is based
on an educated community. This notion of academic achievement and completion is
based on an educated community. This notion of academic achievement and completion
is significant in terms of leadership, economics, and community.

5. MEChA also provides opportunity for students at a particular school to share and
be connected with other MEChA students at other high schools and colleges. This
opportunity for interaction is important in affording students opportunity for exchanging
ideas seeking mutual, support and sharing a MEChA organizational tradition that
extends throughout the United States. This interaction is supported by State, Regional,
and National MEChA conferences held annually.

6. MEChA also provides a significant forum by which to bring attention to cultural


awareness. This notion of cultural awareness is relevant during current times of
multicultural diversity perspective in education.

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7. MEChA, like other organizations provide students opportunity to learn group
dynamics, planning, staging of organizational activities, leadership development, and a
host of other skills transferable to other settings.

8. Since MEChA student organization exist at both high school and college levels,
MEChA serves as an excellent bridge for students making the transition between high
school and college.

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