Students say recent Cesar Chavez celebrations are “disrespectful”

As police work to finalize plans for increased patrols on Cesar Chavez Day, a group of Chico State students in California is working to curb what it calls “disrespectful” celebrations of the holiday named for the civil rights and labor leader.

Over the past few years, Cesar Chavez Day has become a party day for Chico State students. Some have even compared it to the massive celebrations seen on Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day, but members of the Cross Cultural Leadership Club is trying to stop at least one part of the celebration. That would be the sombreros, ponchos and other stereotypical attire that members of the group call “disrespectful.”

“It is just disrespectful to see how they dress up.  They see it as a Halloween day or just a holiday to drink, but it is more than that,” Lambda Theta Nu member Jeanette Ochoa said.

“This past year, it really hit me that this is a really disrespectful celebration,” event organizer Mario Morales said.

Those feelings are one of the main reasons Mario Morales decided to organize Tuesday’s rally in hopes of teaching students about Cesar Chavez’ contributions to labor laws.

“He just created a better environment for workers overall.  He’s the reason we have breaks throughout the day,” Morales said.

“We should carry that tradition and that legacy that he wanted carried out, instead of getting sombreros and dressing in ponchos and getting drunk on tequila,” A.S. President Jay Virdee said.

Those working the booths said they are hoping students will embrace the true meaning of the holiday and get involved with community projects.

One such event aimed at doing just that is the C.A.T.S. in the community which is set to help clean up area parks and lend a helping hand at various charities Monday.

“We are expecting about 200 people to come out,” Virdee said.

Morales realizes that many students would prefer to relax and enjoy the day off from school. He’s just hopeful that if they do decide to have a few drinks that they tone down the racial stereotypes.

“Feel free to celebrate, but just do it in a more respectful way,” Morales said.

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