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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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‘Preparing for the long haul’ — U Administration Will not Meet Mecha’s Demands

Student group Mecha de U of U continues to demand specific action from university administration after their loss of university sponsorship and the cancelation of their high school conference.
Sarah Karr
Mecha organizer Gabriela Merida recites a poem written by a Palestinian woman as part of a Mecha walk-out in front of the A. Ray Olpin Student Union Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Karr | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Following several controversial rallies, protests and a four-hour-long sit-in, Mecha de U of U was given the chance to meet with University of Utah administration to discuss their demands — none of them have been met.

Demanding a Meeting

In response to losing university sponsorship, Mecha organized a sit-in at the A. Ray Olpin Student Union to demand a meeting with university administration on Nov. 15. They were granted a meeting for Nov. 20.

The people who attended the sit-in included many Mecha members, as well as student supporters who started by sitting in the Union ballroom and eventually moved to the Center for Equity and Student Belonging. 

Mecha members occupied the office area of CESB interim Associate Director Montelleo Hobley, demanding a meeting with university administration to review Mecha’s nine demands. These included reinstating Mecha as a student-sponsored group in CESB with Mecha having full autonomy of their student organization, rescheduling the Mecha High School Conference and allow Mecha to lead it, as well as removing various university leadership from their roles including Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal and Hobley.

In a video of the conversation between Mecha and Hobley on Instagram that they posted, students said, “Give us a day and we will end this right now.” Hobley replied that he had done all he could, which was emailing the administration. The students demanded an immediate date to be set.

Montelleo Hobley was contacted for comment, but did not respond.

Associated Students of the University of Utah President Jack O’Leary was at the sit-in, and Mecha attempted to make negotiations regarding their demands. Merida said O’Leary’s words were “wishy-washy” when he was asked about supporting trans students.

O’Leary declined to comment on the record regarding the event.

ASUU did release a statement on Instagram two days later.

“As ASUU, we denounce all anti-trans, anti-Islamic, or anti-Semitic rhetoric, and we reaffirm that this campus belongs to all students, regardless of their identity or background,” the statement read.

Meeting With University Administration

The meeting on Nov. 20 included Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald, Villarreal, Dean of Students Jason Ramirez, Chief Safety Officer Keith Squires and Chief University Relations Officer Chris Nelson.

While Mecha knew little about the meeting, Merida said they wanted the administration to “feel the pressure.”

“We weren’t expecting huge strides and progress,” Merida said.  She added that it was shocking to her that the administration did not ask many questions during their meeting and seemed upset at the student group.

“We were the ones having been stripped of funding and we were the ones to have had our high school conference taken,” Merida said.

She doesn’t think the meeting was helpful.

“There really wasn’t much to be honest, but we’re preparing for the long haul,” Merida said. “We know this isn’t gonna just happen overnight.”

On Nov. 28, Mecha received an email from university administration. The email said the administration would not meet any of the groups’ demands.

According to the email, Mecha’s university sponsorship will not be reinstated, and Mecha may potentially be involved with the upcoming high school conference, which is pending scheduling for the spring.

The email also said the university finds the safety of queer, trans and Palestinian students “incredibly important,” and will continue to support them. The university will not cut any ties with Israel. The letter said the university opposes genocide in any form, but cutting ties “with a country and companies is complex and not practical for a public institution of higher education.”

Mecha said they refuse to give up.

“The University does not care about us,” the post read. “In fact, they will actively oppress us and laugh in our faces when we demand better — this is just the beginning.”


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About the Contributors
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, 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 (4)

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  • M

    Mr. TDec 6, 2023 at 9:39 pm

    Mecha has a 20+ year long history of threats, vandalism, violence, and illegal hecklers veto (as they did recently to the YAF).

    They are a domestic terrorist org, and the University was wise not to give in to their inspid whining and threats.

  • L

    LoriDec 6, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    I just need to say, that everything is going to be okay. Keep being yourself, and love yourself. Ignore those who try to judge you. Be seen and don’t be afraid to be seen. Don’t let yourself get easily offended or angered, just listen to others and protect others from hate when possible while avoiding becoming outraged. We are all in this together and we all belong.

  • J

    John HedbergDec 5, 2023 at 6:04 pm

    Dear Mecha de Ooooh of Oooooooh!, 😂

    I’m “BIPOC”, but I have different views than every other intersectional person who’s also BIPOC – different views than you, if you can imagine! So… when you assume you know my opinion just because of how I look or identify, the racist is you: something to keep in mind~ You call anyone who disagrees with your feelings a racist, which is racist of you, and you say anyone who disagrees with your feelings is an oppressor, which is classic oppressor behavior and shtick. Mecha, you are the racist oppressors if you think you represent anything but your own infantile “demands” while you hate-label anyone with diverse lived experiences who has compassion for the transgender people you disagree with.

    A large and growing number of post-surgical transgender persons are realizing in retrospect that they were not feeling at home in their own body for reasons which had nothing to do with gender, and now that they’ve chosen irreversible removal of body organs that can never be replaced (for instance, they can never have children), there have been a growing number of suicides reported by the leading transgender institutes in Europe, which are a few years ahead of this country when it comes to treating true gender dysphoria. My question is why some of you are apparently so transphobic that you deny, suppress, and refuse to inclusively #Listen to the diverse lived experiences of suffering people whose feelings may differ from your own, by showing them empathy and compassion as if you value their humanity the same way you value others. Why do you devalue the humanity of these transgender people whose experience may be diverse from your own?

    You cultural Marxists are gullible enough not to know that Marxists go after every new generation, trying to convince them that their culture is “systematically racist/sexist/classist/dunce-phobic”, and whatever other labels may work in a particular culture which enables them to convince naive young people that “we’re the only ones who understand” and “we’re the only ones who have compassion” and “justice now!” while they perpetuate the opposite.

    Every generation thinks that they’re the first to discover these themes, and every new generation learns the hard way that the easiest path to power for authoritarian despots is to convince young people that somehow, all the older people in every society going back thousands of years somehow missed the memo! Somehow, all those millions of other people just like us simply didn’t get it!

    We’re the ONLY ONES WHO UNDERSTAND that the propaganda we’re being fed is entirely new, and entirely trustworthy, because we’re so young! Naturally, only we can see through the “systems of oppression” to act for compassion and justice, which traditionally means allowing the Marxists to get just enough power so they can stop anyone else from acting democratically to get them out, at which point they turn on the dupes (students) who helped them gain power and eradicate them, since this is the only group that still has enough power to stop the Marxists at that point.

    Catch an interview with anyone who survived the Cultural Revolution in CCP China, where the student Red Guards were used to eradicate the university professors and other dupes who helped Mao get into power, and once the Red Guard youth were done eradicating the “useful idiots”, the Red Guard youth were either gotten rid of, or they were exiled into the desert for the next 20 years while “The Party” consolidated total control.

    Always, always, the new generation thinks that they’re the first and only ones who see through the “oppression”, and these dupes are always the last ones to realize that their own friends and family are now being wiped out to keep the genocidal psychopaths they launched into power from being challenged, since these same dupes are now the only ones left with the power to depose. This was the story in Soviet Europe, CCP China, North Korea, Venezuela, Rwanda, Cambodia, and so many other societies leading up to some of the worst genocides in human history. This is what my liberal public school teachers in Harvard country taught us about the real oppressors, after they and their families escaped some of the worst Marxist propaganda factories and slaughterhouses in history.

    Are you just another dupe in a long line of dupes who think of yourself as “progressive”, flattered by “a new understanding”, “enlightened”, when the truth is that everyone except you already knows about Marxist capture of societies through propaganda, through fake pleas for compassion which they never actually practice, and by convincing the most naive that everything they’ve been taught by thousands of years of progressive learning is somehow a lie that only they know about… except it’s actually the other way around?
    Is your “trustworthy” anonymously-funded news source lying to you, and the only question is whether you’re going to continue willingly being a dupe, or whether you’re going to start listening to real accounts of history that show compassion is never about rage, that hate is never justified, but that life is full of unavoidable suffering and challenges and always has been, and only genuine Love can make all of this we go through together worthwhile?

    Grow a little, show a gram of humility and scientific inquiry, and have genuine empathy for all your neighbors, no matter what false narratives you’re being fed, then get back to the rest of us, and you’ll finally find your safe space: your family. We’re all your family. All of us.

    Wake up! Your algorithm has been spiked with poison (have you never heard of Jim Jones?), and if you don’t wake up quick, you may be dead before the antidote finds you, along with everyone you care about, because that’s the way Marxism shows its ultimate compassion: they show compassion by killing everyone who can still feel anything they might find threatening, and they find everything a threat, especially Love.

    Best Regards (with that same Love),
    J Hedberg

  • C

    Che AndersonDec 5, 2023 at 3:52 pm

    how many of che guerverra wannabes are on full AA scholarships paid for by taxpayers?