Letter to the editor

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On 5 April 2017, The Orion published an article about César Chávez Day, which commemorates the notable American labor leader and civil rights activist, César Chávez. The article, “Students volunteer, party for Chávez Weekend,” portrays this holiday as another day that Chico State students can use to party.

We want to bring it to your attention that the front cover and article were missed opportunities to highlight student and community volunteerism, along with educational programming about Chavez’ legacy.

As Mechistas, activist César Chávez is an important figure to our Chicanx/Latinx community. Moreover, not just our community, but the migrant labor community. The working conditions in the fields were harsh; workers were not allowed to communicate with each other, not allowed breaks, they worked grueling twelve-hour days, restrooms were not available, and in some cases, water was not provided or had to be paid for.

Chávez fought for farm workers’ rights such as: break time, bathrooms, better pay, and healthcare. To support these efforts he, along with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962. Certainly, there is still more work to be done towards recognizing immigrant workers rights in our country, and college students should take this holiday as a call to action. Indeed, while we take this California State “day off”, farm workers, housekeepers, yard workers, child care providers, and countless others whose labor makes this economy run- do not get this day off.

Our Chicanx/Latinx community was hurt by the lack of thought and interest that went into the cover on the importance of the holiday. This article frames this important holiday as if it has no other value than to drink and party. The lack of diversity on the front cover emphasizes a division of cultures on the Chico State campus. Instead of highlighting Chávez himself, or volunteers in the community, the coverage focuses on a Caucasian party, overlooking our community. Chico State has become a Hispanic Serving Institution; our Latinx population makes up over 30 percent of the student body.

The Society of Professional Journalists ethical guidelines suggest journalists should “Provide context. Take special care to not misrepresent or oversimplify […] a story.” For future articles, we would like to see the Orion strive to practice these professional standards, with more in depth and thorough coverage on the historical legacy of César Chávez.

We understand partying in downtown Chico is inevitable, on this day. However, a solution to bring awareness to alcoholism and cultural appropriation on this holiday could be an educational segment about the importance Chavez is to the State of California and the labor workers.

Thank you,
Mariby and Alexis, fellow Mechistas


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