HELP FIGHT ARIZONA BILL TO BAN ETHNIC STUDENT GROUPS:
The following is a rather unusual appeal from the United Farm Workers in the USA. It seems that there is some sort of bizarre rider to a bill now before the Arizona legislature that would ban students in that state from forming groups based on race. This was tacked on to a "homeland security" bill ???, as explained below. The bill is actually an ill-disguised attempt to prevent students from minority ethnic groups from organizing to promote their interests, and it may not be so strange to see the UFW opposed to this sneaky little trick iof one considers the high percentage of Mexicans in the UFW.
Now, whatever you may think of such groups, whether they are a good thing, a bad thing or sometimes good and sometimes bad, it can hardly be argued that the proposed bill is not an infringement on the basic right of association. It is something that would be a total non-starter up here in the frozen north. A rather nasty and underhanded one at that. The UFW appeal follows below. To learn more and participate in this campaign (you don't have to be an Arizona resident- you can tell the politicos that the world is watching) go to http://www.ufwaction.org/campaign/sb1108 .
Help fight Ariz. bill to ban ethnic student groups like MEChA, Black Business Students Assoc.
Multiculturalism is a basic American concept. We value the beliefs, traditions, customs, arts, history and folklore of the diverse cultures reflected throughout our nation. All this is being put at risk in Arizona, where last week the Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to a routine homeland security bill, SB 1108 that would prohibit students at the state’s public universities and community colleges from organizing groups based on race (ie: groups such as MEChA, the Black Business Students Association, Native Americans United, etc.)
Please take action today. This bill could reach the Arizona House floor as early as this week.
According to newspaper reports, Rep. John Kavanagh, (R-Scottsdale), a supporter of the measure called these campus organizations, "'self-defeating' and 'self-destructive' for students."
Self-defeating? Multiculturalism doesn't limit students. It gives them pride in who they are and enhances their being fuller people by fostering the concept of America being the land of opportunity. As Cesar Chavez said, "Preservation of one's culture doesn’t mean contempt for others'."
These student groups are like any other school club or fraternity. They bring students together so they can achieve academic success. They offer a place to meet, make friends and support one another. Their goal is to help students succeed. For example, the members of the University of Arizona's MEChA chapter visit high schools to encourage students to attend college. They hold events and fundraisers to spread the message that education is the key to success.
The bill goes one step further. It also would ban public schools or colleges from including race-based classes or school sponsored activities. Officially the language says it would ban any activity "deemed contradictory to the values of American democracy or Western civilization." However, the language is so broad, who knows what could be prohibited? Certainly Chicano studies, African-American studies & other ethnic studies programs would be put at risk.
Studies show that students who learn about their race and culture have a lower drop-out rate. In truth, if this bill passes it could cause a huge set back in our educational system.
Please take immediate action. If you live in Arizona, e-mail your representatives immediately as well as the Speaker of the House. If you live outside Arizona, please e-mail the Arizona Speaker of the House today and let him know the eyes of the nation are on Arizona.