Letters to the Editor

[Editor’s note: This letter was received June 3, 2001, before the parties named herein resolved their dispute. Please see page 1 for more information.]

Editor:

Last April, UCSD hosted a series of events related to the life and career of union organizer Cesar Chavez. These events marked the first time in the history of UCSD that a campus administration chose to highlight the histories of Chicano/a and Mexican communities and their ongoing struggle for equal rights.

The figure of Chavez was an especially important choice, given his lifetime of sacrifices so that workers could have fair wages, better working conditions, and respect. Now there is even talk of naming the new Sixth College after Chavez or some other prominent Latino/a.

Faced with the absolutely legitimate effort by campus janitors to unionize and receive a living wage, the administration stonewalled and resorted to intimidation and firings.

Given the publicity blitz around the Chavez events and the university’s attempt to put on a human face, it is a tragic irony that someone in the UCSD administration chose to call in the Immigration and Naturalization Service in an attempt to destroy the union drive and disperse its leadership.

This is one of the oldest tactics used by reactionary and anti-worker forces against Chicano/a and Mexican workers, dating back to at least the 1930s. With this single act, the corporate mentality, anti-democratic ethos, and anti-Latino/a bias of UCSD’s leadership became apparent to the entire Chicano/a and Latino/a community.

Empty acts of symbolism are cheap. The administration’s attempt to reap public relations benefits from the Chavez events has now been exposed as little more than cynicism. Were he still alive, Chavez would be the first to denounce this unwarranted and reprehensible action.

— Dr. Jorge Mariscal

Department of Literature

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