Poly Sci 68: Seeds Of Revolution
Thursday, August 23, 2007
It’s not exactly all student protests and walkouts, all the time, on Monterey or Salinas campuses. Some have their activist moments—like CSU Monterey Bay MEChA’s march against an anti-immigration bill, Hartnell students’ counter-military-recruitment efforts on campus, and a veritable recycling bin full of eco-initiatives the kids at Monterey Institute of International Studies are nobly pursing to save the planet. Other schools—not so much. Or not at all. Defense Language Institute and Naval Postgraduate School are both military bases, among the few places where First Amendment rights get sticky. These two schools have an excuse, but frankly, Monterey Peninsula College doesn’t. An MPC Associated Students staff member tells the Weekly that its Dice and Cards club is the most active on campus. Hmmm.
So, from where we sit, in our brick-and-glass tower, we think it’s up to you incoming students to bring some fire and passion to campus. Become a student leader. Get involved. CSUMB hosts a club fair on Sept. 5, 5-7pm, in the Main Quad, and MIIS hosts a similar event Sept. 13, noon-2pm, at the Samson Student Center. Find a cause to rally behind, or start something new. Work for peace and justice. Create change.
STUDENTS FOR PEACE | Hartnell College | firstname.lastname@example.org
Something was missing, Margarita Caracheo realized. As the Iraq War raged on, she noticed that military recruiters regularly showed up at Hartnell College to lure her fellow students into enlisting—yet no one offered a counter-point to their pitch. “I have all these opinions, but what the hell am I doing with them?” she asked herself.
So, late last spring, Caracheo and about nine other Hartnell students and faculty members started up Students for Peace with the goal of supporting the troops while opposing the war. In May they sponsored their first big event, Iraq Vets Speak Out, featuring a conscientious objector who served a year in jail for desertion. Club members had set a fund-raising goal of $500. They raised $1,700.
When they reconvene in the fall, club members plan to focus on counter-recruitment efforts on campus—which, Caracheo says, “Hartnell’s not too fond of.” Previously, recruiters filed a grievance against club members for passing out pamphlets near their stand, she says, and college staff refused to release information about the recruiters’ tabling schedule. But Caracheo says her group, undaunted, plans to add prisoner support and social justice work to its counter-recruiting efforts.
“It’s a trip,” she says, “but it’s pretty exciting, and pretty hopeful.” [KA]
INTERTRIBAL PEOPLES | Hartnell College | myspace.com/hcintertribalpeoples
Indigenous pride is a state of mind, according to Lorenzo Holguin. Intertribal Peoples, the club that he and two other Hartnell students re-invigorated in 2003, has roughly 25 members—among them people of Russian, Brazilian, South American, Mexican and Native American heritage. “We’re not really discriminating, because we feel that all of us are indigenous,” he says. “We’re just trying to get people to open their minds and think about what they do every day to make an impact in Salinas.”
The club’s main event for the past three years has been a free community pow-wow in the spring. Club members aim to keep it as traditional as possible—featuring tribal dancers and a ceremony honoring the four directions. Vendors sell traditional Indian tacos and T-shirts while club members feed the drummers and dancers. “If we have more food left over, we feed everyone else,” Holguin says.
Any big event on a college campus means lots of bureaucratic hoop-jumping, and club members are sometimes bogged down with sales work and funding applications. But in their view, it’s worth it. “It’s very hard to do ceremonies in this new world with all this paperwork,” Holguin says. “Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in.” [KA]
BLACK STUDENT UNION | Hartnell College | 755-6715 or email@example.com
Sharolyn Robinson’s resume will make your head spin. The nursing student, wife and mother re-invented Hartnell’s Black Student Union in 2000 during her lunch breaks while working as a full-time County employee, all before heading to night classes on campus. She’s also been the vice president for the Salinas chapter of the NAACP, and Hartnell student body president, vice president, Senate member and trustee.
“I struggle in life,” she says. “When I know other people are coming behind me, I try to make sure we’re on the same page and are provided with the same access as everyone else.”
In that spirit, the small BSU does a dizzying amount of work. Club members raise money by running a county election booth, staffing vendor booths at the Monterey jazz and blues festivals, and serving at the annual crab fest. They also offer scholarships, send members to a conference for African American college students, host a Kwanzaa event, give away Christmas trees, hold dinners and dances, and gather food for the homeless. For Black History Month they bring storytellers, drummers and keynote speakers to campus.
“We’ve done so much together, sometimes I forget how much,” says club advisor Al Grainger. “Hopefully the club is something that builds your character in terms of helping others and serving the public.” [KA]
From saving paper and collecting e-waste to steering MIIS toward low-flush toilets and solar panels, the Environmental Task Force’s influence is hard to miss on campus. It starts with new student orientation, when club members explain the school’s recycling program and handout guides listing sustainable businesses and tips for living a green lifestyle.
Club members say students and teachers will see the club’s increasing presence on campus this year, at everything from lectures to mixers. Faculty advisor Jason Scorse says all professors receive a blueprint to conserving paper and electricity. Plus, the club advises event planners to use biodegradable utensils and serve up hummus and lentils instead of steak skewers. “We’ve instituted recommendations for all MIIS events to have at least 50 percent plant food,” Scorse says.
The club also pushes hard for green building design. Following an ETF recommendation, the campus will LEED certify every new building. Plus, the club will be a key partner as MIIS looks to reach its goal in achieving “climate neutrality” under the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Signatories like MIIS have pledged to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming.
And with seven committees, Scorse says the club gives students plenty of options to get involved. In his words: “We get things done.” [ZS]
ASSOCIATED STUDENTS | CSU Monterey Bay | 582-4725 or as.csumb.edu
Maybe the 2008 presidential election seems too far into the future. Perhaps students have found other places to talk politics (in class?) now that both the Republican and Democratic clubs on campus are defunct. Looking ahead to the presidential primaries, one would hope campus donkeys and elephants will soon bust out their Obama and Giuliani banners. But in the meantime, the school’s Associated Students is just about the only platform for student activism. Last year the organization bussed students to an anti-war protest, supported a threatened faculty strike and organized a voter registration drive.
But even AS isn’t exactly a hotbed of activist students. Although it held student elections last year, there remain several vacancies—no one bothered to run for five of the 15 elected positions.
AS President Robert Graham (Bobby James) says the organization’s got a plan to counteract student apathy on campus this year by creating a closer-knit campus where clubs work collaboratively. “I promise that every student is going to know who Associated Students is this year,” Graham says. [ZS]
MOVIMIENTO ESTUDIANTIL CHICANO DE AZTLÁN (MECHA) | CSU Monterey Bay | 229-6335 or clubs.csumb.edu/mecha
When Rudy Medina first came to CSUMB in fall 2005, he says, he was clueless about Chicano culture. So, as a freshman he joined MEChA, a national network of Mexican student organizations that promotes educational equality. Now a seasoned “Mechista,” Medina will school this fall’s incoming class on the Aztec calendar and immigrant rights.
MEChA works to expose high school students to Chicanismo during “Raza Day” and honor deceased ancestors for Día de los Muertos. While primarily known for its festive events like Semana de La Raza, politically speaking, the organization roars occasionally. The club drew a crowd of protesters last year when it helped bring former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill to speak about US-sponsored terrorism and the limits of academic dissent. MEChA leaders also held one of the first local marches against a punitive immigration bill called HR 4437.
Medina says cultural awareness provides a foundation for success and helps combat high college dropout rates among Latinos. “We believe we need to be proud of our culture,” he says, “and know where we are coming from in order to succeed.” [ZS]