Protest Threatens : CSUN’s President, Minorities Meet
Under the threat of a demonstration at Friday’s commencement, James W. Cleary, president of California State University, Northridge, negotiated Wednesday with several campus minority groups that claim they are being shortchanged under next year’s budget for student organizations.
A university spokeswoman said Cleary met for about two hours with three Black and Latino student groups. She said they are “close to a resolution” on their budget requests, which range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
“They’ll be back together tomorrow to talk,” spokeswoman Judy Elias said Wednesday. “The president is trying to settle this thing equitably.”
Without being specific, representatives of the student organizations said Cleary has offered a compromise to the three groups--the Pan-African Council, the Committee in Solidarity with the People in El Salvador and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA).
“We’ve been given an offer, so to speak,” said David Rodriguez, faculty adviser for the Salvador solidarity group.
Rodriguez said that, if a settlement is not reached by Friday morning, a “very peaceful” demonstration is scheduled to be held during commencement on campus, where more than 5,000 graduates and an estimated 15,000 friends and relatives will gather.
The minority groups’ complaints are not directed at Cleary as much as they are at the student government leaders, who last month approved the 1986-87 budget for student organizations on campus.
Amid claims of racism, the Associated Students, which is dominated by fraternity and sorority members, passed a budget that reduces funding up to 50% for the three groups. The decision sparked an emotion-charged campus protest attended by about 250 students.
The budget, which still needs Cleary’s approval, increased funding for two minority clubs--the National Assn. of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Engineers. Two other minority clubs, the Black Greek Letter Council and the Latino Business Assn., received student funds for the first time.
Under the proposed budget, the Pan-African Council’s funding was cut from $8,805 to $6,425. Until this year, the group usually received about $4,000 a year.
‘Ball’ in Cleary’s Court
Funding for MEChA, which was given an average of $8,274 a year over the last four years, was set at $6,157. The Salvador solidarity group was allocated $600, down from $1,250 this year.
Jeff Weiner, this year’s president of the Associated Students, said “the ball is now in President Cleary’s court. He can do what he wants.”
Under university policy, Cleary can either approve the budget forwarded to him by the Associated Students or demand changes, which would require student government leaders to reconvene to include the revisions in a new budget.