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 ones 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 will 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.