Sunday, June 27, 2004

DAILY BRUIN ONLINE - $28,000 in donations from the show's listeners


By Jennifer Case

A political student group on campus that has previously voiced their desire to obtain university funding recently discovered an easier way to obtain far more than the university could ever provide.

In the span of a mere three weeks, the Bruin Republicans' budget has grown from zero to tens of thousands. Since appearing on the Al Rantel radio talk show in early February, the group has received over $28,000 in donations from the show's listeners.

Christopher Moritz of Bruin Republicans and Garin Hovannisian, a former group member and a current Daily Bruin Viewpoint columnist, appeared on the show to spread the word about their campaign against MEChA.

The campaign addresses concerns they have with one of MEChA's founding documents of the 1960s, "El Plan de Aztlán." The Bruin Republicans believe the plan promotes discrimination and that the Chicana/o organization should denounce the plan.

The founding documents of MEChA advocated exclusively for the rights of the Chicana/o community while opposing the rights of people of European descent. Members of MEChA have repeatedly said they no longer subscribe to this part of the document.

While on the air, Rantel asked the members of the Bruin Republicans to speak about the club's concerns regarding MEChA, especially concerning MEChA's funding from UCLA.

Moritz said a big concern was that MEChA received over $6,000 of university funds, whereas his club received nothing due to the funding policy.


Bruin Republicans have complained in the past that they do not receive funding from the Undergraduate Students Association Council because they are identified as an independent group due to their political affiliation. These funding guidelines have come under fire by members of the council and by some administrators in recent weeks.

Some members of MEChA believe the Bruin Republicans do not deserve bragging rights about the money they received.

"It's sad that they are bragging about this money that they raised from attacking an organization," said Allende Palma/Saracho, internal vice president of USAC and a MEChA member. "This makes us ask the question, 'Did they start this campaign for the very reason of raising money?'"

Bruin Republican members say they did not have the intention of raising funds but are nonetheless appreciative of the large number of donations they have received.

L.A. resident Janyce Horn heard Rantel reading a letter Moritz had written and said she felt compelled to donate to the group.

"I don't usually respond to radio shows this way. What they wrote affected me, and I felt I had to respond. These students needed funds in order to continue to make their arguments, and I felt I could help," Horn said.

Members of the group believe the support shows that the L.A. community is interested in helping student causes.

"This campaign really shows how important the UCLA political community is to the outside world. This shows us that what happens here really does matter," said Bruin Republican member Matthew Knee.

In addition to helping financially, some listeners extended their support to the group, attaching encouraging notes to their checks. Horn was one of them.

"I want to use my ability to help them to organize and to be a support. I want to be there for them in any way they need. I would do that for any healthy cause," Horn said.

The group is currently considering what to do with its new surge in funds.

"Before the donations, we had no budget. We paid for everything out of our own pockets, and we're simply not used to having these types of resources," Knee said.

The group plans to use the money to further its MEChA campaign through advertising and tabling on Bruin Walk.

"The point of the money should be for us to put out the right-of-center opinion on the UCLA campus. I think that's what the donors want us to do," Moritz said.

Palma/Saracho said MEChA is not going to spend much time or energy responding to Bruin Republican allegations.

"We invest our time in a lot more proactive measures. ... We don't have the time to be reactionary," he said, adding they may coordinate some educational forums in the future "so people hear who we are from our own mouths."


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