Ann Marie Cataño has been “suspended” (expelled might be the better word) from Los Angeles Mission College (LAMC) for demanding that the campus have a Chicana/o Resource Center and a Chicana/o Museum. Ann Marie helped establish a student organization on campus called Student Empowerment (SE) that has addressed the lack of a Chicana/o Resource Center along with the increase of student tuition fees.
Ann Marie has been working with committed students and several Chicana/o Studies faculty to bring to campus a center that would further enrich the learning environment of Chicana/o students.
At this moment, we should ask ourselves why LAMC does not have a Chicana/o Resource Center in place, especially considering that LAMC is recognized as an “Hispanic Serving Institution.” In other words, a community that is mainly of Mexican descent as well as from Central and South “America.”
Ann Marie has been outstanding in her student activism. In a talk given at the 45th Anniversary of Chicana/o Studies at Cal State University, Northridge (CSUN), Ann Marie explained that she and SE personally met with LAMC president, Dr. Monte Perez, and asked for a room to house the Chicana/o Resource Center, and although it was granted, it was only for a short time.
Ann Marie told the Chicana/o Studies faculty that they had a temporary resource center, but that they would have to move fast to secure a permanent location. Ann Marie and SE have also established their own newspaper called “La Misión” that is independently funded by SE members without LAMC administrative support.
Ann Marie noted that La Misión has highlighted many important issues at LAMC causing administrative officials to feel threatened for being exposed as anti-Chicana/o student and community. The importance of La Misión newspaper cannot be underestimated for it has allowed students, such as Ann Marie to practice their investigative journalism skills.
Aside from being a full-time student and a mother who has also been accepted to Berkeley and a few other schools, Ann Marie has mentioned that her writings have led her to do investigative journalism pushing her to approach LAMC professors with hard questions which has made these professors feel threatened by her reporting at which point they ended up reporting her to LAMC administrators.
Ann Marie is a Chicana student to be emulated. We, as students, need to follow her footsteps or match them in our own way that will lead us all towards self-determination so that we can demand resources that are needed by our community. As has been made clear, Chicana/o Resource Centers must be demanded on all of our campuses.
As you might already be aware, most campuses have a math lab, computer lab, reading lab, but rarely, if ever, is there a Chicana/o Resource Center.
Many of us have spent hours in these math or reading labs receiving help for subjects we are not even majoring in. If a campus is located in a community that is overwhelmingly of Mexican and Central “American” descent, and whose student population on campus reflect its community, then there should be NO question that a well-funded Chicana/o Resource Center must be created and/or already exist.
These resource centers should be open to all people of the community where they are encouraged to visit and get involved in community events to further enrich our understanding of the people that make up the majority in these communities and campuses.
Instead of using their power to “suspend,” Dr. Monte Perez and LAMC administrators should recognized Ann Marie for demonstrating great leadership and dedication to improving her community. Her “suspension” has jeopardized her eventual transfer to the school of her choice.
The decision by former Chicano, now president of LAMC, Dr. Monte Perez threatens Ann Marie educationally, financially, professionally, and emotionally. This should be wake-up call to all those seeking social justice and equality. We must show our support for Ann Marie and students like her who have not forgotten the struggle.
Ann Marie’s “suspension” has also stopped her children from receiving critical child-care services from the LAMC Campus Child Development Center. The hostile actions by Dr. Monte Perez and LAMC administrators towards Ann Marie are both racist and sexist in nature. This is an attack against the Chicana/o community. Ann Marie is also not allowed to step onto any of the nine campuses of the Los Angeles Community College District, including the free speech areas of each community college campus.
It is an insult that a former Chicano who came of age during the Chicano Movement is now using the very tactics that White Supremacist administrators used against Chicana/o students forty-five years earlier.
On April 14, 2014 Ann Marie was applauded and recognized for her bravery by Dr. Rudy Acuña, CSUN Chicana/o Studies professors and students at the 45th Anniversary Chicana/o Studies symposium “¡La Lucha Continua!” giving her much needed moral support.
Thank You Ann Marie!
Pakal and David