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WNMU Students Protesting Attempt To Move Clubs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — MechA, supporters vow sit-in to block plan to move non-club offices into building they’ve had since 1986.

Members of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MechA) Club and their supporters on the Western New Mexico University campus say the university is unfairly trying to get them to move out of a building they have occupied since the 1986-87 school year to make way for non-club offices, the Silver City Sun-News reported.

Kristy Diaz, president of the MechA Club at Western, and Paulo Veltri, president of the University’s Native American Club, said MechA was never told until this semester that the university planned to move them out during the renovation of three other buildings on campus, the Sun-News said.

“We have decided not to give in to their cultural insensitivity and their total lack of respect,” said Veltri, who said university administration has ignored any attempt to negotiate with the student club, the paper reported.

Diaz said the WNMU board of regents dedicated the building, which is located near the campus police office, to the MechA club in the 1986-87 school year, the Sun-News said.

Abe Villareal, WNMU’s public information officer, said the situation would be temporary while the three other buildings — Castoreno Hall, the Chino and Juan Chacon buildings — undergo renovation between mid-March and mid-October, the paper reported.

“The university has no intention to permanently reside in the MechA building. This is a temporary move that will benefit all students,” Villareal told the Sun-News. “And during much of that time, the clubs won’t be active.”

But Veltri and Diaz said a sit-in is being conducted at the MechA building with students taking shifts and that they are receiving support in the form of food and money to continue the protest, the Sun-News said.

“We want to keep our building,” Diaz said. “We plan on holding out until they back down.”

Magdaleno Manzanares, a WNMU political science professor and faculty adviser to both clubs, told the Sun-News that he is the building supervisor and that the university never told him of their plans to move offices into the MechA building.

“I think that shows that they weren’t willing to engage anyone on this matter,” Manzanares told the paper. “And they didn’t expect the students to react this way.”

 

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