Club seeks residency, requirements not met
THE SANTA CLARA
May 1, 2014
Members of the Portuguese American Student Union took offense after the Multicultural Center denied their request to join the Chartered Student Organization.
The PASU expressed its sentiments in a press release, stating that members of the club constitute a campus “minority that should belong to the MCC.”
The MCC stood by its decision. Sophomore Marissa Martinez, public relations and marketing coordinator for the MCC, said that the PASU does not meet the organization’s criteria because Portuguese Americans have not been historically institutionalized or oppressed in the United States.
“It’s not that they aren’t students of color, because they are cultural people, but by the mission statement’s definition, they are not,” Martinez said.
According to the MCC mission statement, “people of color” are defined as racial or ethnic minority groups that must reside in the United States, have roots in United States culture, have been underrepresented both historically and politically, have experienced institutionalized discrimination and have been and continue to be economically underserved.
Anna Sampaio, associate professor of ethnic studies, said that the issue is fairly mundane and something that happens every year in multiple ways on campus, including athletics and Greek life.
“To be very honest with you, I see this as a non-event,” Sampaio said. “Everybody on this campus has a mission, everybody on this campus has operating procedures and everybody tries to make decisions about how best to make those happens, (and) how best to manifest those.”
Jade Agua, Program Director of the Office for Multicultural Learning, noted that students of color still face discrimination on campus, so the MCC needs to maintain the original intent of its mission statement.
“The difference is that a Portuguese American would have the ability to even assimilate because (they) look white, basically,” Agua said.
The MCC provides permanent office and meeting spaces for its members, as well as a safe, accepting space for all minorities.
In 2009, the Japanese Student Association became the ninth and most recent club to be officially installed as part of the MCC. These nine clubs are evaluated annually by the MCC to ensure that they each meet certain MCC goals and requirements.
Currently, PASU is among several other cultural clubs on campus that do not have residency within the MCC.
Although Agua believes that the PASU does not satisfy the MCC’s criteria of representing a historically marginalized ethnic group, she said that there could be room for elaboration in the MCC’s mission statement.
“I think at the time it was founded, when people said multicultural, it meant students of color,” Agua said. “But now, 20 years later, it does not mean that anymore.”
Agua said that she wants a more distinct way for cultural clubs to affiliate with the MCC without having direct residency.
“I would like to think that this incident with PASU would be the open door to this conversation,” Agua said.
In the press release, the PASU said, “Our main goal is to provide a safe and welcoming space for our PASU club members as well as other cultural clubs who are not a part of the Multicultural Center.”
Contact Eryn Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.