MEChA at Chico State is a local chapter of a national student organization. In April of 1969, Rodolfo “Corky” González presented El Plan de Spiritual de Aztlán at the first National Chicano Student Conference in Denver, Colorado. One month later, over 100 Chicanx student youth representing 12 institutions of higher education, met at the University of Santa Barbara campus. The group formulated a plan for higher education, to gather all the student and youth organizations into one, and adopted the name Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán or MEChA This name was proposed to unify other Chicano youth organizations Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) and United Mexican American Students (UMAS), and the Chicano Coordinating Committee on Higher Education (CCCHE) a coalition of students, teachers and professionals working on equity in education.
The organizers drafted a national agenda to integrate Chicano/a studies programs into colleges and universities throughout the United States, El Plan de Santa Barbara. California specifically was called to action in the following areas: Admission and recruitment of Chicano students, faculty, administrators, and staff; A curriculum program and academic major relevant to the Chicano cultural and historical experience; Support and tutorial programs; Research programs; Publication programs; and Community, cultural, and social action programs. MEChA’s geographic expansion was rapid in California, and the Chico chapter was initially developed out of a campus movement to support the United Farm Workers grape strike in the fall of 1969.
On the national level, in 1986, MEChistAs revisited the founding documents and broadened the approach of their student advocacy in an attempt to be more inclusive of la mujer (women) LGBT (lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgendered students), and Chicanos of non-Mexican descent, realign the goals and objectives of MEChA, and address protection against infiltration from outside groups. This attempt to respond to the critique that MEChA was anti-Black and anti-Indigenous, fueled by prejudice and separatist views, developed into a Philosophy of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (POM).
In 2010, at the National Conference in Seattle, Washington, the name was changed to Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán; and again to Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán in 2016, at the National Conference in Tucson, AZ. In April 2019, student leaders at the National Conference in Los Angeles voted to change the name, removing Chicano and Aztlán. This was a response to the decades-long critique of homophobic, anti-Black and Indigenous erasure associated with those words. The new name will be determined at the National Conference in 2020.