|(U-WIRE) EAST LANSING, Mich. -- About 15 Chicano
and Latino students became "white" Thursday.
Saying they do not want their numbers benefiting a
university that doesn't allow them to study their heritage, members of Movimiento
Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlan and Culturas de las Razas Unidas changed their ethnicity to
white on university records in the Administration Building.
"We only have 300 Chicano-registered students
in the university," said Adelita Garcia, an education sophomore who changed her
ethnicity on the records.
"If 10 of us change it, that will change the
university's percentages, which will only hurt the university. It is not helping us any to
be classified as No. 3 or No. 4."
In a question on MSU applications that asks
students to identify their ethnicity, choice No. 3 is "Chicano/Mexican American"
and No. 4 is "Hispanic." In fall 1998, 379 MSU students were registered as
Chicano or Mexican American and 687 registered as Hispanic, said MSU spokesman Terry
"We will always be proud of our diversity
," Denbow said. "Just as these students will always be proud of their Chicano
Thursday's protest followed a demonstration last
week in which members of the same organizations checked out about 4,500 books from MSU's
Main Library to make a point about what they say is their lack of resources. They returned
the books the next day.
The students, who have been pushing for a
Chicano-Latino full-degree program, said Thursday that MSU should create a 23-credit
Chicano-Latino specialization program. The university now has an 18-credit Latino studies
"We're just showing what we can do,"
Garcia said. "All we want is a Chicano studies program so we can learn our history,
Although they asked for a 23-credit program
Thursday, the groups will continue their push for a full-degree program "as long as
it takes," said social work senior Marcelina Trevino, who is co-chairperson of
Movimiento Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlan.
Rosa Salas said she didn't want the university to
use her and others by promoting itself with minority student statistics.
"They get to say they are progressive by
having us check No. 3, but they don't take that into the academic realm," said Salas,
a member of the two student groups and a social relations junior. "We refuse to be
The groups have a history of demonstrating against
what they say is unfair treatment by MSU.
In February 1998, three Movimiento Estudiantil
Xicano de Aztlan members were arrested for disturbing MSU President M. Peter McPherson's
State of the University address. In October 1997, police removed six members of the group
from McPherson's residence after they began demonstrating at a reception given for student
Thursday, the students were delayed for about an
hour while MSU officials sorted out the procedure for changing university records. After
being told they couldn't change their ethnicity, even with two pieces of identification
that proved who they were and their signed consent, students insisted to see a written
policy that prevented them from doing it.
Students demanded to see Linda Lou Smith, the
assistant to the provost for enrollment services, who acts as registrar. Smith spoke with
the students and wrote a new policy that allows students to change their ethnicity on
university records if they have their student ID and sign their consent. She blamed the
delay on confusion.
"This is not something that happens very
often," Smith said.
Students also entered Provost Lou Anna Simon's
office, followed by broadcast and print media, to present their proposed specialization
After learning Simon was out of town, the students
talked to Robert Banks, assistant provost for academic human resources. Banks said any
proposed specialization would be examined in the college it would be offered in and a
university committee would then review the proposal.
"It could take a long time, depending on the
nature of it, or a short time," Banks said.
The groups have a meeting with Simon next week to
further discuss the specialization.
Although she now is listed as white on university
records, Garcia said her ethnicity has changed only on paper.
"It's just a name -- it is just a label they
put on us," she said. "I define who I am."
Sell, State News minority affairs reporter, can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.