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Mecha Loses University Sponsorship Amidst Recent Campus Events

The Center of Equity and Student Belonging withdrew its sponsorship of the group on Thursday.
Sarah Karr
Julio Irungaray, an organizer for Mecha, leads a chant for Palestine in front of the John R. Park Building in support of Palestine in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 9 2023. (Photo by Sarah Karr | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


“We never imagined this and I think we’re all just really angry, really disappointed and horrified by their response,” said Gabriela Merida, Mecha Education Secretary, in response to the Center of Equity and Student Belonging withdrawing its sponsorship of student group Mecha de U of U.

The letter from CESB said the group and its members are “unwilling to operate under the direction and guidance of CESB.” CESB also canceled Mecha’s 28th Annual High School Conference — an event the club played a large role in preparing for.

Mecha posted on Instagram Friday and said they are “heartbroken” CESB has canceled the high school conference.

“We had HUNDREDS of students who were looking forward to the event,” they wrote in the post. 

The Mecha High School Conference was considered an opportunity for students to get access to resources that are not easily accessible to them, the post explained. 

Merida said Mecha has been involved with the event for decades — providing resources for undocumented, first-generation and West Side students.

The statement from CESB said while the event is currently canceled, it will be rescheduled.

Merida also said Mecha is losing around $11,000 in funding, making the rescheduled event difficult to fund.

The letter CESB provided to Mecha informing them of the decision said members of the group are “engaging in behavior that infringes upon the First Amendment rights of other University of Utah students to express their views.”

While CESB did not list specific examples, Merida said it is related to their recently organized anti-transphobia and pro-Palestinian protests. 

According to Merida, CESB said Mecha’s support of Palestine was not aligned with the university.

“We made a statement in support of Palestine and we were not in alignment with the university — that’s just what they said.”

However, even after meeting with CESB, Mecha had no idea they would withdraw their sponsorship and were shocked to receive the letter.

While Mecha will no longer be sponsored by CESB, it will remain a Recognized Student Organization

There are various levels to a Registered Student Organization (RSO) — sponsored, affiliated, registered and non-registered. Mecha will no longer be a sponsored RSO and instead will fall under the “registered” category. 

CESB’s letter cited various rules in their withdrawal.

Sponsored RSOs must “‘[o]perate under the direct and constant guidance of the sponsoring department or office which must be committed to supporting the student organization’s mission and activities.’ Rule 6-401A (III)(D)(1)(b).”

CESB specified while their views are aligned with Mecha in many ways, Mecha has not adhered to allowing other students to practice their First Amendment rights.

Additionally, CESB cited Rule 6-401A(I), which states that sponsored groups are closely aligned with the mission and culture of the U and their actions will be considered university actions.

“This [has] legal risk and other implications for the University,” the rule states.

“I hope that CESB and Mecha can continue to join hands and hearts around the issues that are so important to both of our organizations and where we remain aligned,” the letter ended, with a signature from Associate Director of CESB Montelleo D. Hobley Jr.

However, Merida said, “I think it just goes to show that the university actually doesn’t care about us. All they care about is our tuition money.”

Various accounts reposted the CESB letter on Instagram, calling the U out for censorship and for punishing Black and Brown students.

Merida said the group is blown away by support from students on both the local and national level.

“That has been invigorating and energizing,” she said.

Mecha is currently working on hosting events in response to CESB’s sponsor withdrawal.

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About the Contributors
Libbey Hanson
Libbey Hanson, News Writer
(she/her) Libbey is a second-year graduate student in the MPA program studying public policy and administration. She is most interested in environmental policy and social justice issues. You can usually find her in the mountains hiking and skiing or reading and writing at a local coffee shop.
Sarah Karr
Sarah Karr, Photographer
Sarah Karr was born and raised in Springfield, Oregon, and is attending the University of Utah with a major is communication and a minor in digital photography. Sarah is working with the Chronicle to improve her photojournalism skills and gain some experience in the newsroom. In her free time, Sarah likes to play online games, read and tend to her plants.

Comments (8)

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  • T

    TerryDec 19, 2023 at 2:25 pm

    Watching this group, I realize they are just a bunch of spoiled brats who didn’t get their way and likes to throw tantrums. Despite what they say about themselves, they are definitely a hate group and have no tolerance for any conservative view.

  • A

    AaronNov 15, 2023 at 10:57 am

    This is extremely disappointing to read. What are you seeking; contention, justice, revenge, expression, ‘making a statement?’ Why not peace and true charity? Isn’t this city, state, nation, and world filled with enough of us seeking our own selfish desires? And where has that gotten us? Consider the cost.

    At the end of the day, whatever you seek you will find…but can you not at least be dignified in your efforts?

    I hope Mecha becomes more respectful, dignified, and kind in their behavior. What message are sending the rising generation?

  • J

    JoeNov 13, 2023 at 6:34 pm

    Thank goodness the U still has a backbone! Anti-semitism is alive and well with Mecha. Screw ’em.

    • D

      Daniel AguilarFeb 27, 2024 at 12:13 pm

      A bunch of commie loving hugo chavez, dorks.

      I wonder if they even know that palestinian terror groups recruit children and manipulate their minds to blow themselves up on public transportation buses.

  • T

    TiffanyNov 13, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    You guys should sue! This is not right. Be sure to save all the texts and emails. It could be evidence.

  • D

    David CookNov 13, 2023 at 3:52 pm

    isn’t this a sickening example of zionist pressure to prevent the truth from coming out through student resistance. This is what causes anti semitism.

  • M

    martineNov 13, 2023 at 2:21 pm

    check willie juan johnson on facebook or instagram to get the truth on the fake dei office that is totally racis and hates yte people. the big mistake for mecha was to go after the israheili war criminals. Yes, now you are beginning to see clearly.

    You guys should sue. Robert Sykes. Attorney.

    • S

      ShantaquiNov 13, 2023 at 3:58 pm

      Top lawyer. Hope he takes your cases.
      (801) 533-0222 Sykes Law Firm.