Pizza’s Kitchen: Changing My Mentality on MEChA

By Emily Pizza

The first time I heard of MEChA, I heard them loud and clear.

This was mostly because they were walking through campus with a megaphone, preventing me from sleeping in on my day off. When I asked other people about them, most replies were “Oh, it’s just MEChA, making a big deal about nothing again.”

From what a lot of people seemed to think, MEChA was just a large angry mob that wanted to cause trouble. And, being the ignorant first-year I was, I just went along with it.

Last Friday when I heard about MEChA’s call to action, I decided I wanted to observe. I wanted to know first-hand what this group was about. I can easily say what I saw shattered my perceptions.

When I walked in, the group, who had been waiting for other students to arrive, eagerly greeted me and invited me in. Although I preferred to stay on the sidelines and watch, they didn’t seem bothered by an outsider’s presence, which at this point I still considered myself to be.

The white board in Hicks 110 was covered in drawings, from random smiley faces, to a tree with the caption “El Abuelo de la Amistad.” Or, for those of you that can’t read Spanish, “The Grandfather of Friendship.”

I began to realize how tightly knit these students are when one girl would walk around and kiss the others around her with her lipstick covered lips and they allowed the red mark to stay there for the rest of the evening.

The room also became musical as more students came in. One student tried to teach others how to make birdcalls, which the group quickly decided to call “mating calls,” a joke that continued throughout the evening.  Others would join in together, singing songs in Spanish loudly and cheerfully.

Finally, one student pulled out her phone and played “Timber” by Ke$ha and the whole group cheered as the familiar melody played.

As I saw the way the group huddled around each other I realized something that I think a lot of people don’t:  If these students hadn’t been planning a protest, if they had just been hanging out together, no one would have thought of them as a separate or a challenge to the status quo. This is a group of Kalamazoo College students.

The members of MEChA listen to music, laugh, hang out with friends, and attend the same classes as other Kalamazoo College students. We all go to the same college, exist in the same bubble, and attend the same events, yet we all bring our unique perspectives and offer something new and vibrant to our community.

In observing last week’s protest, I have come to a better understanding of what MEChA is and whom the students are that make up this group. As Kalamazoo College students, those who participate in MEChA are in the same boat as anyone else, but may just have the nerve to try and go against the current.

 

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