New club creates political awareness among students




Campus Times
September 25, 1998

 

by Michael Anklin
Staff Writer

Seniors Valancy Rasmussen and Eddie Casarez started a new organization at the University of La Verne this semester. It is called the Marxist, Leftist, Anarchist Collective for Political Activism and Education.

As the organization's name implies, its purpose is to promote political activism and to educate on different subjects, such as China's occupation of Tibet, said Rasmussen, who is a political science major and chair of the organization.

"We have a broad range of issues that we want to deal with, [including] environmental issues like the nuclear testing in Nevada," she said.

Rasmussen plans to organize demonstrations in front of the Chinese Embassy and near the Nevada test site.

When asked about her motives to start the organization, Rasmussen, who was on ASF for a year and a half, said, "It is just the frustration I guess. They [the students] are so apathetical when it comes to real issues, not just on the University level but of the nation and the world.

"So I just wanted to get people involved and maybe to get more people to really care about what's happening and try to get them to work as a collective," she said.

Rasmussen, who calls herself a liberal Democrat, plans to contact other universities and colleges. "I want to work with the people that were protesting Proposition 209 last year," she said.

So far, the MLA Collective consists of 37 undergraduate members, three faculty members and two advisers, Dr. Reed Gratz, professor of music and Keith Lord, arts studio manager.

The organization's name is intentionally controversial. Besides raising controversy, it is to embody a large political spectrum and show solidarity for the politically left.

As far as the words Marxism and Anarchism go, Casarez said, "I like to think beyond boundaries [and to] look outside the box. I guess that's what Marxism and Anarchism is all about-to go beyond the structures of society. There is nothing wrong with it."

While he admitted that some people may consider it [Marxism, Anarchism] idealistic, he pointed out the similarity between political philosophies and religion.

"Just because people say it's never going to happen, doesn't mean you're going to stop being a Christian," he said. "So why should I stop being an Anarchist or a Marxist?"

Casarez, who considers himself a non-aligned liberal, said, "I like to have my thinking dictate my actions as opposed to have party lines dictate my actions.

"I want to empower people to do their own thinking."

Rasmussen wants members "to realize that they don't have to just sit and just listen to this and think that's bad, but that they can work and actually do something about it."

Vladimira Chavez, a junior, said she is a member of the MLA Collective because it deals with "issues that most students at La Verne don't think about and need to be discussed."

Chavez wants to raise awareness on campus. "People [should] take a stand and have some convictions," she said. "It may not be something I agree with, but at least they have a stand."

"When I was in high school, no one ever questioned the teacher. But that's what a student should do- question not only the teacher, but anyone," Chavez said.



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